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I WISH, here, to record my thanks to Novello & 
Co., Chester & Co., Leonard & Co., Hammond & 
Co., Boosey & Co., Ascherberg & Co., Augener 
& Co., Weekes & Co., J. H. Larway, Enoch & 
Co., Ricordi & Co., Cary & Co., Lengnick & Co., 
Cramer & Co., Stainer & Bell, Rudall Carte, and 
Trinity College, for supplying me with compli- 
mentary copies of some of Holbrooke's smaller 
works, whilst my acknowledgments are also due 
to Novello & Co., Chester & Co., Boosey & Co., 
Weekes & Co., J. H. Larway and the Composer 
for the loan of the orchestral scores necessary for 
the compilation of this volume, and to Mr. 
Holbrooke himself for kindly allowing me to see 
his manuscript works. 



THE annals of English history show little to the 
credit of native musical composers before the latter 
half of the Victorian era was reached. Previous to 
this, the names of Purcell and of a few Eliza- 
bethan madrigalists, such as William Byrd, 
Thomas Morley, John Wilbye, Thomas Weelkes, 
and a few others, had stood out like gleams of light 
in Cimmerian darkness. Otherwise, for real, solid, 
monumental work where shall we look for it? 

England, indeed, in the past, has not done for 
music what might have been expected of her. 
Many of her sons have been endowed with rich 
imaginative gifts, but these gifts have been 
directed into other channels than that of music. 
Poetry has had her Shakespeare, her Marlowe and 
her Milton, but the genius of the golden age of 
English literature found no adequate analogy in 
English music. In Germany, on the other hand, 
music was quick to reflect the romantic spirit of her 
great writers, Goethe and Schiller, whilst the 
mental activities of her great scientists also had 
their influence on the art. The mathematical laws 
of Kepler, as applied to the planetary system, found 
their counterpart in the works of Bach, nearly all 


of whose music is ruled by the mathematical ideas 
that dominate fugal writing; the philosophy of 
Kant found its counterpart, to a great extent, in the 
music of Beethoven, in which we feel very potently 
the soaring of the soul above the more material 
instincts, and a deeply -reflective probing into the 
mysteries of the universe. 

The profundity and philosophy of German 
thought and the romantic movement in German and 
English poetry have only, of recent years, begun 
to exert an influence on English music. Our own 
philosophic and scientific writers, Bacon, Harvey 
and Newton, had no effect in their day, and though 
the earlier part of the Elizabethan age (so rich in 
romantic spirit and in great adventure) was followed 
by an era in which the great imaginative gifts of 
Shakespeare and Spencer reigned supreme, yet no 
trace of their vein of opulent thought is discover- 
able in the English music that followed till the 
advent of Purcell. 

When, under the Stuarts, England became 
embroiled in all the horrors of civil war, art of all 
kinds sank to its lowest ebb. From this, the art 
of music never recovered until the latter half of last 
century, when, at last, we began to make up for lost 

English music has never received much 
encouragement from the nation at large. It was 
so in the past, and it remains the same to-day. The 
greatest aid came formerly from the Catholic 
Church. Religion, in fact, has always been one 
of the chief incentives to most of the great achieve- 


merits of all forms of art. To Grecian mythology 
we owe some of the finest examples of sculpture, 
whilst to Catholicism we owe many of the great 
masterpieces of music and painting. 

With the Reformation in England, came the 
cessation, generally, of the encouragement of the 
arts. The services of the reformed church do not 
offer that medium for musical inspiration that the 
offices of the Catholic Church do. In Italy, the 
choir of the Sistine Chapel kept alive the great 
works of the Italian composers and encouraged 
their aims; in England, the Reformed Church 
quenched them. Paintings were abolished from 
the walls of her places of worship, and the plastic 
arts suffered in a similar manner. 

Music, in particular, played a very unimportant 
part in the two centuries that followed the Reforma- 
tion age. Addison, writing in one of the numbers 
of the Spectator as late as 1711, said, " At present, 
our notions of music are so very uncertain that we 
do not know what it is that we like, only in general 
we are transported with anything- that is not 

Thus, even in the early part of the eighteenth 
century, we were opening our gates to the foreigner 
to the large exclusion of English writers, just as we 
are doing to-day. In that age, there was a good 
deal of excuse for such an action ; in the present, 
however, there is none. The music of the Queen 
Anne period and onward to the mid-Victorian period 
was trivial in the extreme. For this, the laxity of 
morals and the coarseness of ideas of the Anne and 


Georgian eras were largely responsible. Lofty 
ideals could not have found much of an appeal in 
such an age. The licentious courts of three, at 
least, of the four Georges offered an excuse for the 
rest of the nation to follow their lead, and a general 
period of artistic stagnation resulted. Literature 
certainly claimed a few bright particular geniuses 
of rich humour and psychological insight, but their 
works were so full of ordure and obscene sug- 
gestions that they disgust our more modern 
susceptibilities. Yet, the plays of Wycherley and 
Congreve, the novels of Richardson, Fielding, 
Smollett and Sterne, and the pictures of Hogarth, 
are full of great qualities, and define life as those 
men saw it and often as they lived it. It was not 
likely, however, that the art of music should reach 
a very high level, fostered in such surroundings. 

The two writers who did the most to refine the 
manners of the age were Sir Walter Scott and Jane 
Austen. The one, in his works, taught the lesson 
of chivalry and of gentlemanly manhood, whilst the 
other taught the significance of home and of the 
homely virtues. It took some time, however, for 
the nation to be liberated from the slough into which 
it had fallen, but before Queen Victoria had been 
long upon the throne, signs of improvement in 
general ideas and modes of life became evident. 
The Court was no longer a pernicious influence 
upon the nation, and the Queen was a woman of 
culture, who did what she could to encourage 
artistic ambitions. 

The possibilities of musical development became 


of importance now that it could be procreated in a 
new environment of greater refinement, of less care- 
lessness and of greater subtlety of thought, and 
soon there was a slight stirring of the musical pulse. 
Yet, only a very feeble life was perceptible at first. 
The early Victorian music was of the most banal 
type. The mind of the nation had not then quite 
recovered from the general atrophy from which it 
had suffered. The attention of the chief musicians 
of the time was principally turned towards opera, 
the most popular composers of which were Balfe, 
Wallace, Macfarren, and Benedict. Before this 
time, the only operatic writer of any note had been 
Henry Purcell. Certain writers of light songs, 
such as "Claribel," '" Dolores," and Stephen 
Glover were also very popular in their day, but their 
work was of a terribly uninspired and arid nature. 
Yet a few productions of this period still continue 
to retain a hold upon the affections of the less 
musical public even now, and among these are the 
operas, " The Bohemian Girl/ 9 " Maritana," 
' The Lily of Killarney," and a few others. Such 
works can never be accounted good art, but they 
contain many melodies of a cheap, artificial type, 
and a fund of exaggerated sentiment that has 
always had a strong appeal to the tastes of that 
strange being the great British public. The 
majority of the examples of early Victorian art, 
however, have been relegated to oblivion long ago. 
Like the plesiosaurus and ichthyosaurus, they have 
become extinct types. They have given way to the 
law of " the survival of the fittest," and our know- 


ledge of the insipidities of "the fittest*' should 
help us to gauge how feeble and jejune the re- 
mainder of the music of that age was. A celebrated 
wit once said that " language was given us to con- 
ceal our thoughts," and it is to be hoped that the 
early Victorian music was of this nature or the 
thoughts of the writers of it must have been pretty 

Gradually, however, English composers began 
to recognise that mere tune-stringing to tickle the 
idle ears of their audiences was not the chief mission 
of music ; it should have a far higher import than 
this, and should be based upon intensity of feeling; 
it should also be something quite personal to the 
composer. Germany had revealed her poetic 
" soul " in music. Why should England prove 
so reticent? 

At all events, English composers began to grow 
more ambitious and to stretch their wings a little. 
High ideals were no longer matters for jest. New 
sources were recognised as suitable for musical 
inspiration, and as merely awaiting the light of 
genius to reveal the many suggestions that they 
comprehended. So we meet with such composers 
as Mackenzie, Barnby, Macfarren, Parry, Cowen 
and Stanford men who have done much to raise 
the tone of English music, but whose work 
possesses no very great abiding quality. It belongs 
to the placid, pleasant British type of music which 
often possesses much melodic charm and is techni- 
cally clever, but none of which sounds a true 
individual note. It follows in the rut that other 


composers have made. It is timid and hesitant, 
and fears to speak in original accents lest it should 
be accounted bizarre and exaggerated. It is prim 
and has a sort of Uriah Heep " 'umbleness " about 
it. In its intense conservatism lies its chief weak- 
ness. It still clings for protection to the outworn 
formulas of a past age, and watches the encroaching 
sea of new ideas creeping around with horrified 
trepidation. Some day it is bound to sink, for this 
"stay-at-home," imitative form of art never has a 
very long life, though it may possibly outlast its 
generation by a few years. The great composers, 
however, were always explorers in art Beethoven, 
Schumann, Wagner, Scriabin, and Debussy. 
They had individualities to express in music, and 
they could not always do it in the conventional 
pattern that other men had designed. 

Nevertheless, we owe a good deal of gratitude to 
these English composers of the conservative school. 
They have gone to work in an earnest manner, and 
have done much to pick English music out of the 
refuse heap into which it had fallen. Their work, 
at least, suggested that England might, though 
rather late in the day, become the leading centre 
of creative musical work. How far that suggestion 
has been verified, each one can judge for himself. 
At all events, the work of these conservative com- 
posers led the way to the far greater and more com- 
prehensive art that was to come later. 

Individual though this new art is, however, it 
would doubtless have taken a very different form 
had it not been for the enormous influence exercised 


by that wonderful genius, Richard Wagner. 
Wagner, indeed, effected the greatest revolution 
ever experienced in music. His ideas have crept 
both consciously and unconsciously into many 
different forms of art. There were doubtless some 
faults in his system, but the main principles must 
ever form part of the music of the future. 

We are heirs of time, moreover, and benefit by 
everything good that has preceded us. Art does 
not stand still, though it may be quiescent for a 
time. It then accepts what it inherits and adds 
to it. The man of strong individuality who takes 
the fullest advantage of the most valuable of the 
heritages of the past, and, at the same time, moulds 
them to accord with his own originality, is a man 
of genius from whom much may be expected. We 
have three such musicians of genius in England 
to-day in Elgar, Holbrooke, and Bantock. Indeed, 
one would not be asserting too much in saying that 
few such remarkable imaginative musical minds 
can be found throughout the breadth of Europe. 
That all three of them owe much to the genius of 
Wagner, it would be futile to deny, but the great 
fact remains that they have all added to what they 
have inherited. Moreover, they have all added to 
it in different directions. The music of each strikes 
an individual note, and is the revelation of a par- 
ticular personality. Neither composer has hesitated 
to express himself without reserve. Past conven- 
tions have had to go to the dogs where they have 
hampered the composer in conveying his meaning. 
Holbrooke, in particular, has been much censored 


for the many licenses that he has taken. Yet the 
traditions of the past have been constantly followed 
by him where he has felt them to be fitted to the 
purpose that he has had in view, and they have 
never been passed over out of mere wanton scorn. 
But he has had no hesitation in utilising new har- 
monic combinations and progressions, nor in 
employing unusual and debatable instruments in 
his orchestral scores where he has considered them 
applicable to the situation visualised by him. How 
far art has benefited by this modern freedom of 
thought must be a vexed subject for many years to 
come. Modern ears have not yet become acclima- 
tised to the new tonal combinations, and critics and 
musicians generally are, at present, somewhat 
divided in their ideas concerning it. 

Meanwhile, the Zeitgeist passes over us without 
letting us perceive whether it sympathises or laughs 
at the music that our present-day state of living is 
generating; nor does it reveal whether it is towards 
Cosmos or Chaos that it is tending. Somewhere, 
however, beside a distant sea, three women, busy 
with distaff, thread and scissors, thread the web of 
Fate ! and each of these, too, is dumb ! 




JOSEF HOLBROOKE was one of six children, and was 
born at Croydon in 1878. A brother and two sisters 
having died in childhood, only Josef and two sisters 
are left surviving. 

For generations back, the Holbrooke family has 
been a musical family, whilst Josef can also boast 
of a grandfather who distinguished himself both as 
an artist and as a musician. His father was a fine 
pianist, and the composer of a few works of a 
trifling nature. His mother was a Scotchwoman 
and a professional vocalist, and to her the composer 
owes the Celtic strain in his music and character. 
This strain is evidenced in much of his piano work, 
in some of his songs, such as Annabel Lee for 
instance, in the " In Memoriam " Sextet, in Apollo 
and the Seaman, in Dylan, and in many other com- 


Josef's early years were spent in travelling, for 
his father toured with various entertainers and 
visited a large number of the towns of England, 
Scotland, Ireland and Wales. His mother, who 
had always been delicate in constitution, found the 
strain of constant travel a severe tax upon her feeble 
strength. The result was that, in 1880, she suc- 
cumbed to the malady of phthisis, from which she 
had long suffered, leaving Josef and his two sisters 
to the care of their father. 

Soon after this, the elder Holbrooke obtained an 
engagement as pianist at Collins* Music Hall, 
Islington, and, later, at the Bedford Music Hall, 
and he and his family settled down in London. 
Whilst here, the young Josef became a chorister 
at St. Anne's Church, and also attended the St. 
Anne's Schools there. He had inherited a treble 
voice of big range from his mother, and could reach 
the top C with ease. Often he would accompany 
his father to the music hall, and also play there ! 

All his early musical education came from his 
father, who taught him both the violin and piano. 
The latter was always his favourite instrument, 
however. Luckily, the tastes of the elder Hol- 
brooke rose above those of the music hall at which 
he was employed, and he educated his son in the 
works of the great classical masters. But Josef was 
always avid to learn more, and all his odd shillings 
went towards the purchase of such works as the 
Concertos of Beethoven and the Sonatas of 
Clementi. A favourite thing with him at this time 
was the " Cujus Animam " from Rossini's Stabat 


Mater, whilst he also greatly admired Spohr's Last 

There can be no doubt that the time that he spent 
at the Music Halls was not wasted. Though the 
orchestras at these places were small, rarely con- 
sisting of more than a few violins, viola, violoncello, 
controbass, flute, clarinet, cornet, trombone and 
drums, still he was able to judge what effects 
certain instruments were capable of producing, and 
this did him yeoman service later. 

The youth developed rapidly, and soon became 
most proficient in pianoforte and violin playing 
so much so, in fact, that his father found he had 
nothing more to teach him and decided to take him 
up and enter him as a student at the Royal 
Academy of Music. It was his ambition that his 
son should be trained as a conductor, but this idea 
was laughed at by the professors of the Academy 
to whom it was mooted ! It would be time enough 
to think about that, they said, when the lad should 
have gone through a thorough course of academic 

Behold then young Holbrooke, already a first- 
class pianist and musician, installed as a student 
at the Academy in 1893, at the age of fifteen ! Here 
he was able to extend his knowledge of the classics 
for which he had long yearned, and he now worked 
with painstaking diligence at Clementi, Chopin, 
Beethoven, Liszt and Schumann, in turn. There 
could be no doubt, however, that, in spite of his 
fine gifts as an executant, his true bent lay in the 
direction of composition. Musical ideas were 


always with him. Indeed, he had more than he 
knew what to do with. He professes to have been 
able to write music at any time without waiting for 
a so-called " inspiration " to descend upon him, 
and this remarkable musical fecundity has been 
with him throughout his whole career. 

Untiring energy, too, has generally been a lead- 
ing key-note of his character, and he possessed a 
fair mead of it even during his student days. He 
worked hard at creative work, and before long his 
compositions began to be performed at the fort- 
nightly concerts of the Academy. Though only 
friends were admitted to these concerts, the audience 
was always a musical and often a very critical one. 
The programmes were arranged by Mr. Frederick 
Corder, and not by the principal, Sir A. Mac- 
kenzie. The first work of Holbrooke's given at 
these functions was a pianoforte trio in G minor in 
three movements, performed by himself as pianist, 
Miss E. Byford as violinist, and Miss May Mukle 
as 'cellist, in 1895. This work still remains in 
manuscript. Another chamber work of large 
dimensions that obtained a hearing at these con- 
certs was a Pianoforte Quartet in G minor, given 
by Miss Gertrude Peppercorn (piano), Miss E. 
Byford (violin), Mr. Vernon Addison (viola), and 
Mr. Herbert Withers ('cello). The 'cello part in 
this work was particularly difficult. 

The group of piano pieces, Valse Romanesque, 
By the Sea (Nocturne) and L'orgie (Fantasie Bac- 
chanale), the last three numbers of the Second 
Suite, now published as part of Op. 18, was also 


written and performed whilst he was a student at 
the Academy. These little pieces, like the larger 
works of the composer, showed considerable lean- 
ings towards harmonic freedom and too much un- 
conventionality of design to meet with the approval 
of the principal of the conservative Tenterden 
Street Institution. Holbrooke chafed greatly under 
the attempts to frustrate his individuality from 
having free outlet in his music, and, being some- 
what of a revolutionist, condemned the general 
routine of the Academy, root and branch. He was 
particularly irritated by the fact that when he had 
to play any of his own works at the private con- 
certs, these were almost invariably placed at the 
end of the programme. Such was the case with 
the programme announcing the performance of the 
three piano works already mentioned. He deter- 
mined on this occasion, however, to play a trick 
upon those in authority. He was down to give a 
rendering of Schumann's " Toccata " early in the 
concert, but what was the surprise and shock of his 
listeners to hear him boldly plunge straight away 
into his own compositions instead ! After this, he 
disappeared, so that the Schumann " Toccata " 
went unperformed ! However, the next morning 
he had to face the "music,*' for he was called 
before Principal Mackenzie and others of the pro- 
fessors and then had to hear much from them con- 
cerning his " morbid music," his " horrible 
harmonies," his " lack of melody," and his 
" objectionable style." Such bigotry on the part 
of the Academy professors appears laughable now, 


but it must have rankled in the mind of the sensitive 
young composer at the time ! 

After this, his life at the Academy was largely 
one of discontent at being held in the leash of its 
conventional routine. He longed for more expan- 
sive modes of expression, but could find no sym- 
pathy or encouragement for his experiments. His 
originality at this time made him feel very much 
alone. But he never abated his labours, for Hol- 
brooke always had the courage of his convictions, 
and he always had the fighting instinct to struggle 
to maintain them in the face of the most bitter 
opposition and obloquy. Among other works 
written at the Academy and performed at its 
private concerts was a Sextet for piano and five 
strings in the form of dances Plantation, Slavonic, 
Landler and Tarantelle. His Professors did not 
like the Slavonic, and so Holbrooke wrote the 
Tarantelle in two days as it stands. This Sextet 
figures as Op. 20 in Ricordi's list. Other works 
of this date were another Sextet for strings, a 
" Serenade " for 4 violins, the " Legende " and 
" Ballade " for violin and piano (Op. 5), and these, 
with the previously mentioned quartet, all obtained 
a public hearing at St. James's Hall. Another 
work, written at the Academy, which the composer 
considers one of his best works as a student, was 
a Concerto in one movement for piano and 
orchestra, but this was never publicly performed, 
being condemned at the private rehearsal by the 
Principal ! 

Owing to home troubles, Holbrooke was com- 


pelled to leave the Academy in 1896, after a broken 
course there of about three years. He left it with 
many honours, however. For pianoforte playing 
he had won the bronze and silver medals, the Heath- 
cote Long prize and the Potter Exhibition. This 
latter he had had to forfeit on gaining the Sterndale 
Bennett Scholarship for all round musicianship, 
which he won with the G minor piano Quartet that 
has been already spoken of. It was on the advice 
of his master and friend, Mr. Frederick iWestlake, 
that he had entered for this scholarship. He had 
also borne away the Lucas Medal prize with his 
Pantomime Suite for string orchestra, the piano- 
forte arrangement of which appears among his 
works as Op. 36 (b) ; yet, in spite of these achieve- 
ments, he had often failed for an "Elements" 
examination ! Such are the anomalies of our 
musical system ! 

The time had now come when it was necessary 
for Holbrooke to seek out a career for himself. He 
was nearly eighteen years of age, and a remarkably 
well-developed musician for his years. He took 
the first thing that offered itself. An advertisement 
in the " Era " for a pianist and conductor for a 
Scotch tour attracted his attention, and soon he is 
to be found travelling around the country playing 
a few solos and accompanying comic songs. A 
strange occupation for a musician of his ability and 
ideals, indeed ! But life offers queer contrasts in 
its time, and between the mind condemned to 
drudgery of this nature and the mind that could 
conceive magnificent music-dramas such as The 


Children of Don and Dylan, what a seeming gap 
there lies ! But is it not, after all, the man who 
has lived through the greatest hardships who 
generally has the most serious perception of 
things? The lessons of life are not often learnt 
along primrose ways. 

Holbrooke's first start in life was fated to end 
disastrously. At some places, such as Inverness, 
Strathpeffer, and Elgin, he and his company were 
fairly well supported, but at others, such as Keith, 
Macduff, Buckie, and Lossiemouth, no one 
attended the place where they were playing at all. 
As a result, after six weeks, the tour came to an 
abrupt end, and the young musician was forced to 
return to his father, minus a few weeks' salary, and 
by the sea route, into the bargain ! 

From this tour he brought back a very poor 
opinion of the musical temperament of the Scotch 
as a nation, which caused him some surprise, for, as 
he has said, their lovely folk-lore, their weird and 
wonderful scenery and their poetical country, would 
lead one to expect great things of them. Instead, 
he was doomed to disappointment. 

He did not remain with his father very long, 
for soon we find him settled in Harringay, 
and taking pupils. These, however, were very 
few in number and brought in a very poor re- 
muneration, and after six months of this penurious 
sort of life he again found it necessary to obtain 
some regular occupation, and, seeing an advertise- 
ment in the " Musical News " for a musical com- 
panion, he answered it, and thereby met one of the 


best friends of his life in the Rev. E. S. Bengough, 
who was to help him a great deal in after years. 
Later, he resorted to the pages of " The Era " in 
search of employment. Through the medium of 
this paper, he accepted the offer of conductorship 
of a " fit-up " theatrical company that was opening 
with Aladdin and the Lamp, Christmas, 1899. A 
week's rehearsal had to be given free, and this 
proved a severe drain upon his slender resources. 
The orchestra, on the first night, consisted of a 
cornet, violin and piano only, Holbrooke being the 
pianist ! At later performances, he would often 
play the violin and a third-rate pianist would be 
obtained, from the town where they were per- 
forming, in his stead. 

At this time, Holbrooke was a teetotaller, and he 
had to put up with many jibes from his fellow- 
travellers on account of his abstinence. He 
suffered many indignities, too, that were very 
galling to his sensitive nature. Unlike most of 
his companions, he did not borrow any of his salarv 
in advance at the conclusion of the week's rehearsal, 
and he had much cause to regret this later. After 
a fortnight's tour, the manager decamped, leaving 
his whole company stranded at Worksop practi- 
cally penniless. Fortunately, he left the fittings 
behind him, so that the company decided to give a 
performance on their own account. It was at this 
time that the Rev. E. S. Bengough came forward 
to help his young friend out of his sorry plight by 
assisting him to return to London. 

An old proverb tells, however, that every cloud 


has a silver lining, and during this disastrous tour 
Holbrooke received the first real chance of his life- 
time. He had submitted the MS. of his first 
orchestral poem, The Raven, to Sir Augustus 
Manns (then Mr. Augustus Manns), the Crystal 
Palace conductor, a musician noted for practical 
encouragement to native composers with high 
aims, and had received a reply from him to the 
effect that he would be glad if Holbrooke would go 
and play it over to him. 

Imagine the joy of the ardent young composer 
when this commiunication reached him ! On his 
return to London, he lost no time in calling on 
Manns. He was full of confidence in himself, for, 
in spite of much discouragement, Holbrooke has 
never minimised the position that he holds among 
creative musicians. At this meeting all went well. 
Manns was pleased with the work, and the inter- 
view ended with the decision of the conductor to 
give it at one of his famous Saturday Afternoon 

The rehearsals lasted a week, which is much 
longer than orchestral compositions get nowadays. 
Holbrooke attended all of these, and learnt much 
in the process. The work, of course, was largely 
experimental, for the composer had had little 
experience then of writing for a big orchestra. 
Many passages in it were found to be impossible for 
some of the instruments, whilst others were of 
extreme difficulty, and, at the request of Manns, 
these were altered by the composer. 

The performance of " The Raven " took place 


on March 3rd, 1900, and had a very favourable 
reception. Holbrooke has been a marked man 
from that date. The composer, though proud of 
his success, was one of the first to note the weakness 
of certain parts of his work, for his mind is particu- 
larly analytical. Though the shafts of his critical 
faculty have at times been directed against the 
music of his contemporaries, he has been equally 
critical of his own, and if he has upheld the claims 
of those among his own works that satisfied him, he 
has also often been very generous in his estimate 
of those of others. He was quick to seize upon the 
many incompetent and ineffective passages that he 
had written, and also to observe where the work 
would benefit by amplification, and when he re- 
ceived the MS. back from Manns, there was hardly 
a bar of it that he did not alter. The score that 
now exists is entirely a new one. The old one is 
in the possession of Mr. Ernest Newman. After 
all, as Shakespeare says, " the best men are 
moulded out of faults," and experience has always 
proved the best master. 

Emboldened by the success attending his first 
orchestral poem,, Holbrooke now began to make 
strenuous efforts to get some of his earlier and 
smaller pieces on the market. Many of these were 
accepted by various publishers, but did not prove 
very remunerative to the writer of them. The little 
piano piece " Mignon " was sold for the princely 
sum of one guinea. The firm of Leonard and Co. 
took many of Holbrooke's early piano pieces at low 
prices ! Mr. Leonard once likened himself and 


Holbrooke to " philanthropists " both working for 
posterity, neither of them to get any return in their 
lifetime, but I do not think that his firm has done 
so badly out of Holbrooke's compositions, after 

Meantime, the composer was proceeding with his 
more serious work, and had been busily occupied 
with his second poem, first entitled " The Skele- 
ton in Armour," and later changed to The 
Viking, and also with his set of orchestral varia- 
tions upon the air of Three Blind Mice. As soon 
as the first work was completed, he wrote to Gran- 
ville Bantock, who was then the musical director 
of the Tower, New Brighton, asking him if he 
would be able to produce the new work there. Mr. 
Bantock had always been a loyal supporter of 
native art, and he had also advertised the fact of his 
intention of inviting the younger composers as well 
as the older men, such as Parry, Stanford, Cowen, 
Mackenzie and Corder, to conduct concerts. It was 
this fact that encouraged Holbrooke to address 
himself to his brother-musician. The corres- 
pondence resulted in a meeting, and Bantock 
decided to put the new poem into rehearsal. Hol- 
brooke then appeared for the first time as a con- 
ductor, and he likes to tell how his strange gestures 
puzzled the band. The curious and original 
strains of the new work puzzled the players still 
more, however, and they were quite unable to cope 
with its many difficulties as it stood. The young 
composer was advised that his scoring was quite 
impossible and could never sound effective, and was 


asked to alter it. This he did, reluctantly and 
against his convictions. The purport of the work 
then became quite altered. It was performed under 
Bantock's conductorship late in 1901, and was well 
received. Later on, it obtained a second hearing 
at the Queen's Hall with Henry Wood as con- 
ductor, but with a new score. 

The critics have had much to say concerning the 
sinister and morbid import of Longfellow's poem, 
but, to Holbrooke himself, it never possessed that 
character. To him, it was just an adventure 
romantic and picturesque. As to his own opinion 
concerning it, as compared with his earlier 
orchestral work, he considers that, though The 
Viking shows musical advance, it is not superior 
in thought to The Raven. The latter he believes 
to be more organic and a finer conception 
poetically. He has even said that few of his other 
works gave him so much satisfaction in the writing. 

It was at New Brighton that Holbrooke first met 
that fine and lucid musical critic, Mr. Ernest New- 
man, and he has always remained one of his 
greatest admirers. It was also during his stay at 
New Brighton that he was advised bv Bantock to 
send his new work, The Three Blind Mice Varia- 
tions, for the consideration of Mr. Henry Wood, 
the conductor of the Queen's Hall Orchestra. 
Although many of the composer's earlier efforts 
had been repeatedly rejected by Mr. Wood, he 
nevertheless decided to act on Bantock's recom- 
mendation, and the Variations were despatched. 
It resulted in Mr. Wood promising to give a per- 


formance of them that season, and they were set 
down for a hearing in 1901 . During the rehearsals 
the members of the orchestra had an exceedingly 
busy time in attempting to decipher the composer's 
manuscripts, for Holbrooke's parts were never 
noted for tidiness or clearness. Moreover, the work 
was intricate, so that there was a good deal of 
pardonable grumbling on the part of the players. 
However, la fin couronne les oeuvres, and the work 
was most favourably received, both, by the audience 
and the critics, the composer having the satisfaction 
of seeing himself described by the press afterwards 
as " the Richard Strauss of England.'* 

In the midst of his creative labours, Holbrooke 
still found time to continue his work as a teacher, 
but the number of his pupils was very small. He 
was, therefore, quite ready to relinquish them when 
an offer was made to him; to become a teacher of 
music at the Midland Institute, Birmingham, of 
which Bantock had recently become the Principal. 
He joyfully accepted it, packed his goods and 
chattels and departed from London to become a 
guest in the house of Bantock, where he remained 
during the whole of his residence in the " forward " 
city. Bantock 's large library was a source of great 
pleasure to him, and among the literary works with 
which he' regaled himself from its shelves were many 
of those of Turgeniev, Tolstoi, Zola, Gorky, and 
Herbert Spencer. For the poetical gifts of Mrs. 
Bantock he has retained a great admiration. 

Whilst living with the Bantocks, Holbrooke 
made a better acquaintance with the works of 


Richard Strauss. It was the delight of himself 
and his host to play all the arrangements for piano- 
duet that they could get hold of, though neither 
musician was able to yield unstinted admiration for 
that master. Holbrooke, however, particularly 
admired what he termed the " heavy humour " of 
Don Quixote. It is his opinion that German com- 
posers possess no humour in the true sense. 

It was during this period that his Queen Mab 
was written, but he had no orchestral work per- 
formed in Birmingham whilst he was there. In 
fact, the only one of his compositions that obtained 
a hearing at all was a chamber work, the Sextet 
(Op. 33 a) for wind instruments, which was played 
by some of the professors of the Midland Institute 
at a private concert there. 

After a few months he became thoroughly dis- 
satisfied with his work at Birmingham, so that it is 
not surprising to find him soon returning to 
London. The next thing that we learn of him 
then is that a friend has advanced him a small loan, 
and that he has taken two rooms in the northern 
suburbs, where he is bravely struggling to maintain 
himself by taking pupils and by the small royalties 
that his compositions are beginning to bring in. 

But it is a life of great poverty that he is com- 
pelled to lead. In order to repay the loan that has 
been advanced to him, he has to suffer many priva- 
tions. All his own cooking and cleaning is done 
with his own hands, and he has to subsist upon 
the slenderest fare. Sometimes, even, he has not 
sufficient money to buy meat, and has to substitute 



a vegetable diet for it instead. Yet, if the hard- 
ships of this time are many, his growth in artistic 
power is also great, and many of his best orchestral 
and chamber works are composed in these 
Bohemian quarters. 

Gradually, too, things begin to improve. His 
choral poem, Queen Mab, which had been written 
during his stay in Birmingham, is accepted by the 
Leeds Festival Committee for their Festival of 1904. 
During the rehearsal of this work, Holbrooke has 
to listen to much grumbling from the orchestral 
players on account of the difficulty of many of the 
passages that it contains. The wood-wind and 
brass parts are of particular difficulty. However, 
the work is brilliant and goes well, and is so 
favourably received that the,young composer is also 
asked to supply the Leeds Choral Union with a new 
work. He gives them " Byron'/' that is already 
completed, and it is performed on yth December, 
1904. Splendidly sung by the magnificent chorus 
of four hundred voices, it proves very successful. 

It was about this time that Holbrooke married 
Miss Dorothy Hadfield, of Rotherham. During 
his Leeds visit, also, he made many friends, among 
them being Mr. Andrew Black, Mr. Ben Davies, 
and Mr. F. R. Spark. 

The next orchestral work of his to be performed 
was " Ulalume," which was given under Mr. 
Henry Wood's baton, at one of his Symphony 
concerts in 1905. This work puzzled many of the 
critics, who completely failed to comprehend its 
poetical spirit, and many fatuous and unjust things 


were written concerning it. These critics could 
only take note of its strange harmonies and its 
nebulous fancies, and condemn them both with 
bitter invective. The remarkable originality of 
this work has always proved inimical to the chance 
of it every approaching popularity. 

Holbrooke's friendship with Mr. Andrew Black 
did not terminate with their meeting at Leeds, for, 
soon after their return to London, the composer 
received an invitation from the singer to visit him 
at his house and to bring some of his own songs 
for his inspection. Fruitful results ensued from 
this. Mr. Black chose several songs, whilst, 
through the influence of Mrs. Black, Holbrooke's 
name obtained a place upon the programme of both 
the Norwich and the Bristol Festivals of 1905. At 
the Bristol Festival, Mr. Black sang the dramatic 
scena Marino Faliero in such a magnificent manner 
as to invoke the composer's enthusiastic gratitude, 
whilst the Five Bohemian Songs were produced at 
Norwich with great success. For these last compara- 
tively trifling songs Holbrooke managed to obtain 
a much more considerable sum than he Had done 
for his important works, Queen Mab, Ulalume, 
Blind Mice Variations and Marino Faliero together. 
But the more artistic emanations of a composer's 
brain are rarely appreciated to the same extent that 
his more commonplace ideas are. Such are the 
vagaries of art ! 

Holbrooke also received a commission at this time 
from Mrs. Black, a fine pianist and a very talented 
woman, to write for her a Scotch Fantasia or Scotch 


airs for the pianoforte. This he did, but he has 
never seen the work since, as the family departed 
for Australia. 

The year 1906 was a particularly favourable one 
for the composer, and his name appeared on all 
the provincial festival programmes. In the cases 
of the Birmingham 1 and Hereford festivals, works 
were commissioned. The Birmingham Festival of 
this year is memorable for the fact that it contained 
performances of representative works of the three 
composers who are the most living forces in modern 
British music, for, besides Holbrooke's dramatic 
poem " The Bells," it included Sir Edward Elgar's 
The Apostles, and the first part of Granville Ban- 
tock's Omar Khayyam. Holbrooke's great work 
was produced under Richter's baton, and, consider- 
ing that the conductor did not know the poem, 
obtained a fairly satisfactory rendering. There 
was some lack of balance, however, that went to 
prove that the work would have benefited by further 
rehearsals. It was received with acclamations in 
some quarters and with jeering vituperations in 
others. Better these latter, however, than to be 
silently passed over as so many festival novelties 
are ! In the opinion of the composer, The Bells 
contains some of his finest and most sustained 
efforts, and it is probable that a future age will agree 
with him. 

The " Dreamland Suite " owed its birth to 
peculiar circumstances. It had been written some 
years previous to its production at Hereford for a 
competition inaugurated by Mr. William Boosey, 


the managing director of Chappell & Co. This 
competition had originated in the following 
manner : Mr. Boosey had wagered that no English- 
man could write a suite as tuneful and engaging as 
Luigini's 'Ballet Egyptien, and the wager had been 
accepted by a man who contended that a competi- 
tion open to Englishmen only would prove Mr. 
Boosey 's contentions to be wrong. The late 
Ebenezer Prout was among the examiners chosen 
to decide this momentous matter, but no work sent 
in was deemed by them *' worthy of the prize." 
Mr. George H. Clutsam received a small reward, 
but Holbrooke's work came back on his hands 
again, and was later sold outright to one of the 
publishing firms for twenty guineas ! In com- 
paring it now with Luigini's ballet, one marvels at 
the decisions of the judges, for Holbrooke's suite 
contains four very charming and melodious 
numbers, whilst Luigini's work is trivial in the 
extreme. The Hereford audiences were quick to 
recognise its air of dainty lightness, and the recep- 
tion that it had was very flattering. 

It was about this time that Holbrooke's 
symphony, " Les Hommages," was first produced 
by Mr. Wood at the Queen's Hall, though this 
work had been completed in its present form two 
years before, and had originally been written for a 
string orchestra four years previous to that. It 
has, perhaps, proved one of the most powerful of 
the composer's orchestral compositions, and even 
critics who had used some of the strongest epithets 
against the trend of Holbrooke's other works, found 


something splendid to say regarding Les Hom- 

Holbrooke now began to occupy himself with a 
new orchestral composition. Mr. Herbert Trench, 
the critic and poet, having finished a new poem on 
Immortality, entitled Apollo and the Seaman, wrote 
to the composer asking him if he would set it to 
music. This Holbrooke finally agreed to do. 
Much of the music was written in Penmaenmawr, 
North Wales, where he went ' * to help the theme, ' ' 
as he describes it. The strongest part of the work, 
the Finale, was composed whilst he was here, the 
melody in A minor being particularly impressive. 
It was largely through the moving nature of this 
theme that Holbrooke made one of the staunchest 
friends of his life. 

The work took him about four months to write 
and to score. Trench, who was not a musician, left 
him a free hand to do what he liked, so that the 
design of the musical setting is all his own. An 
arrangement for its performance in the autumn of 
1907 at the Queen's Hall, under the conductorship 
of Mr. Thomas Beecham, whom Holbrooke was 
helping with all his keen enthusiasm for new men, 
was then made. A few difficulties in the way of 
its performance occurred, however. The composer 
had made use of a bass sarrusophone in E flat in 
his score, and there were no players of this little 
known instrument in England. He and Mr. 
Beecham made a special journey to Paris in search 
of a competent performer upon it, and spent an 
amusing time there. After much trouble, they dis- 


covered a Monsieur Doloville, a fine artist and 
teacher, who agreed to cross the Channel and play 
the part that was lacking. Unfortunately, when 
he arrived, it appeared that he had not the lowest 
instrument, so that several of the deepest notes, for 
which the composer had especially wanted him, 
were lost. 

Apollo and the Seaman was produced with 
original and rather startling effects. A screen was 
stretched partly across the orchestra, and the text 
of the poem was thrown upon it by a magic lantern 
during the performance of the music. The idea 
of this latter innovation was originated by the poet. 
Holbrooke knew nothing of it at the time that he 
accepted the offer to write his score. The experi- 
ment to his mind was not a successful one alto- 
gether, and he has since expressed an opinion that 
it is impossible to engage two senses at once. 
Opera, of course, stands outside this dictum, for 
here stage action and music combine to their 
mutual advantage, and each line of the drama has, 
or should have, its corresponding musical equiva- 
lent; but in a choral work dealing with a subject 
from a narrative point of view, the relation of music 
and poetry is not necessarily so exact, and we get 
general suggestions of the poet's mood in the music 
rather than a detailed portraiture. 

The concert at which this orchestral poem was 
performed was well attended, and its reception not- 
able, even the most conservative critics being bound 
to admit that the work possessed powerful thoughts. 
The opulence of the orchestral colouring, also, 


could not be overlooked, though there was much 
condemnation of the large number of instruments 
employed, which, in many cases, was considered 
detrimental to the clarity of representation of the 
thematic material. Of course, the employment of 
the sarrusophones came in for special castigation ! 
The big orchestras required by Holbrooke to 
carry out his musical intentions have always 
been a matter of contention between himself and 
conductors, but there can be no doubt he has 
greatly enriched the tonal effect by certain of his 
original combinations. Those who have had the 
advantage of hearing a performance of The Bells 
will not forget the excellent effect of the use of con- 
certinas in that work, though the great Hans 
Richter was greatly averse to their introduction. 
Apollo and the Seaman has been performed several 
times since its initial performance, and each repeti- 
tion of the work has served to reveal new beauties. 

The same year, 1907, witnessed the performance 
of some of Holbrooke's other works at the Belgian 
Festival. On this occasion, he was the only Eng- 
lish composer represented. 

The next important composition of Holbrooke's 
was his Dramatic Choral Symphony. This 
creation was inspired by four poems of the com- 
poser's favourite poet, Edgar Allan Poe, to whom 
so much of his work owes its impulse. The poems 
on which the new symphony was founded were The 
Haunted Palace, Hymn to the Virgin, The City in 
the Sea, and The Valley Nis. It was not completed 
until the year 1908, though six years went to the 


making of it. Two of its movements were per- 
formed at the Bristol Festival in 1907, but the com- 
plete rendering of the work was first given by the 
Leeds Choral Union in 1908, and was conducted by 
the composer. Holbrooke has said that this is the 
last musical poem that he is likely to write on sub- 
jects taken from Poe's works, as he considers that 
he has now utilised all the best of them'. 

During the past few years, owing to the " fee " 
question, Holbrooke's works have been rigorously 
excluded from the big festival programmes. This 
is an injustice both to himself and to British art in 
general. It is also depriving the British public of 
the chance of following the artistic advance of one 
of its most intellectual musicians. Weak and in- 
sipid compositions are foisted upon it by the score, 
but why should it be debarred from hearing work 
of the vital strength of which Holbrooke is capable ? 
It is a crying disgrace in an age of musical shams. 
When our prophets come, we stone them. We 
don't quite like their methods, and so we do our 
best to kill the souls of them. There is too much 
of the personal element affecting our musical life. 
A man's art, to every earnest sympathiser, should 
stand apart from everything else. If it is good, it 
is for humanity's benefit that it should be 
encouraged; if it is bad, then time will quickly 
place an obliterating hand upon it. But let there 
be no jealousies no petty animosities and bicker- 
ings. They are detrimental to the cause for which 
all true artists should work. They are a sign of 
ignorance and of crass selfishness too, and I think 


that Holbrooke has had to suffer much from the 
slings and arrows of his less talented contem- 

Apart from the neglect of Festival Committees 
to produce anything from the pen of this composer, 
it is seldom that we hear any of his orchestral works 
performed at orchestral concerts. At one time, 
Henry Wood did much to spread the knowledge of 
the composer's striking genius, but of late years 
he has done little in the way of exploiting it. All 
honour, then, to Beecham, who has recently pre- 
sented many of Holbrooke's works, and shown, 
once again, what an individual force this composer 
is in English music ! 

The exclusion of Holbrooke's work from the pro- 
grammes of the big festivals has had an excellent 
result, however. It has given him time to proceed 
with operas work that has long been present in 
his mind. There is an operatic trilogy The 
Cauldron of Math to words of T. E. Ellis (Lord 
Howard de Walden) upon a Welsh subject. Of 
this trilogy, the first and second parts, The 
Children of Don and Dylan are completed, and the 
third part, Bronwen, is well advanced. Of the 
wealth of imaginative genius contained in these 
magnificent creations much will be said later. This 
large undertaking is not the composer's first attempt 
at writing for the stage, for he wrote a work of 
somewhat lurid character, Varenka, several years 
ago, whilst his charming little lyrical music-drama 
Pierrot and Pierrette was produced at "His 
Majesty's" Theatre in November, 1909. The 


Children of Don and Dylan, however, remain the 
greatest works that Holbrooke has yet penned, and 
they rank with the very highest achievements of 
British art. 

Another important work is the poem for grand 
orchestra and piano, The Song of Givyn-ap-Nudd, 
which was first performed at the Queen's Hall in 
1903, conducted by the composer. 

It may be interesting to note that Holbrooke 
hopes to write a large work on a scriptural subject 
some day, and much of his music indicates that he 
would be well qualified for the task. 

It now becomes time to make some mention of 
the concerts that, since 1902, Holbrooke has given 
in different parts of the country. These concerts 
originated in the following manner. For six years 
the composer had tried, without success, to gain the 
" Lesley Alexander " Prize, but at length, in 1901, 
he managed to carry it off with his " Soul " 
Sextet No. 2 Op. 330. This work had originally 
been written as a Quintet for flute, clarinet, horn, 
bassoon and piano, when he was a student under 
Mr. Frederick Corder. By adding an oboe part, 
he converted it into a Sextet and bore off the prize 
of twenty pounds for which he had so long com- 
peted. This sextet is also arranged for two violins, 
two violas, violoncello and piano, and finds a place 
among his published chamber works. 

With the money thus obtained he formulated a 
scheme for two chamber concerts at the Stein way 
Hall. The first programme was made up chiefly 


of his own works, and included the G minor Trio 
(Op. 21) (now a quartet), the Quintet (Op. 46) " In 
Memoriam " (now a sextet), the Quintet (Op. 200) 
" Dances " (now a sextet), and a few lesser works. 
At this concert Holbrooke played Balakireff's 
Islamey, a composition which he considered to 
rank with some of the finest things written for the 
piano. He also played, for the first time in Eng- 
land, A. Scriabin's First Sonata in F minor for 
piano, a gloomy but powerful work. 

Though the press notices of this venture were 
flattering, the result was by no means encouraging 
from a financial point of view ! At the second con- 
cert, however, things were a little brighter. Other 
English composers became anxious to join the 
enterprise and to have some of their works included 
in the programme. By this means, a larger sale 
of tickets was ensured. A piano Sonata (Op. 32), 
by J. D. Davis, and a Trio Fantasie (Op. 11), for 
pianoforte, violin and violoncello, by Alfred H. 
Barley, were performed, whilst Holbrooke was re- 
presented by his Quintet (Op. 27) and a small 
violin piece. 

In spite of the rather poor results, Holbrooke con- 
tinued his enterprise, and, before long, his 
audiences began to grow larger and matters to 
improve generally. His concerts were no longer 
confined to the metropolitan area, and the provinces 
were toured with considerable success. Often, in 
the early days of his career as a concert-giver, he 
would himself carry round posters to shopkeepers 
who he thought would be willing to exhibit them 


in their windows. It was his custom, too, to write 
analytical notes on the works performed for his 
programmes ! 

Holbrooke has always been a fighter for the 
cause of English music, and his confreres in the 
art have had much reason for gratitude towards 
him. He is not one of those composers who seek 
" to wax great by others waning," but he has been 
responsible for the performance of many an 
interesting work that, but for his untiring energy 
would probably have had to wait many weary 
months before its public representation. Even if 
this has not always been of particular benefit to its 
composer, it is something, in an age where high 
aims are so little encouraged, to be able to boast 
of even one performance of an art- work. How 
many musicians in Great Britain can point to such 
a record of help to his fellow composers ? entirely 
ignored, by the way, in our press. Amongst the 
names of British composers whose music has been 
heard at Holbrooke's concerts might be mentioned 
the following: Sir Edward Elgar, Granville Ban- 
tock, Cyril Scott, John Ireland, Fritz Delius, Cole- 
ridge Taylor, Ernest Austin, Algernon Ashton, 
Julius Harrison, S. T. Hawley, H. Balfour- 
Gardener, H. V. Jervis-Read, Roger Quilter, 
Roger Ascham, A. H. Barley, J. D. Davis, T. 
Tertius Noble, Edwin Evans, W. Wallace, K. 
Ivey, J. Speaight, Norman O'Neill, Ernest Blake, 
R. K. Matthew, H. Walford Davies, T. S. Dun- 
hill, F. C. Nicholls, Norman Wilks, Donald Fer- 
guson, Augustus Smith, Ethel Barns, John Pul- 


lein, A. Bax, Edward Agate, Edith Swepstone, K. 
Waldo Warner, Dan Boyes, Ernest Walker, 
Arthur Fagge, Frank Bridge, and many others. 

A goodly list, truly ! 

It will have been seen from the past narration of 
some of the leading events of Holbrooke's life that 
nature did not frame him for a career of cradled 
ease. He has experienced the anxious privations 
of poverty as other composers have done before 
him, but it is possible that his music has greatly 
benefited by the hardships through which he has 
passed. Schubert used to say that his greatest 
music was born out of his greatest miseries, and the 
wonderful songs of Hugo Wolf doubtless owe their 
intensity to the same cause. It is such men who 
often see the highest visions. Life to them is not a 
playground to sport about upon, but a school 
where the philosophy of humanity is learnt. The 
musician who is surrounded by sycophantic adula- 
tion never gets to the heart of things. Mendelssohn 
was a case to the point. The great musician always 
stands to a large extent alone. His originality 
places him somewhat apart from his fellows, and 
many misconceptions are always rampant concern- 
ing him. " Points have we all of us within our souls 
where all stand single " ; and our finest geniuses 
often seem rather remote from us, until another age, 
in accordance with the evolutionary principle, 
brings us more into line with their thoughts and 

Art has been described by Ve"ron as " the mani- 
festation of emotion obtaining external interpreta- 


tion, now by expressive arrangements of line, form 
or colour, now by a series of gestures, sounds or 
words governed by particular rhythmical cadence. " 
Some minds are more receptive than others, and 
are able to follow the workings of another man's 
brain with a sort of telepathic sympathy. Soul is 
quick to respond to soul, and the external inter- 
pretation of emotion through the eye or the ear 
will evoke a similar state of mentality in the spec- 
tator or the listener to that of the creative artist. 
Other minds do not possess this power, and are 
receptive only to what tickles pleasurably the 
organs of sight and hearing. Sometimes, they are 
too indolent to be otherwise and are purposely blind 
and deaf to anything that induces them to active 

The music of Holbrooke will always be mis- 
understood by many, if only for the fact that it is 
intellectually original. They will not let their 
minds become receptive to the fine qualities that dis- 
tinguish it. They listen to it with only half of their 
faculties awake, and let the other half slumber out 
of the desire to save themselves the brain-fag of 
trying to enter into the comprehension of the com- 
poser's own mental outlook. They then greet it 
with howls of execration and call it cacophonic, 
morbid and grotesque, thinking, by these epithets, 
to have made a complete summary of its character. 
But have they really done so? Is not the music 
more often full of vitality and power? is it not, 
generally, melodious and full of charm ? is it not 
often very deeply felt and very human ? and does 


it not often show a fine sense of psychological fit- 
ness? Holbrooke's genius, indeed, stretches in 
many directions, and its boundaries are not 
cramped. To know his music thoroughly is to be 
brought into view of new worlds. One stands on 
Pisgah and looks towards wider horizons. 

The composer is comparatively young, and his 
music is generally full of a youthful vigour and 
impulse. In spite of its very occasional morbidity, 
it is never decadent. Sanity and vitality are 
generally its chief characteristics. These are the 
qualities that one would expect from: a man of Hol- 
brooke's energetic disposition and warm enthu- 
siasms. " Hard work " has always been his motto, 
and his compositions include six operas, eight 
orchestral poems, two symphonies, three orchestral 
suites, three sets of orchestral variations, a trio, 
sextets, quintets, quartets, upwards of forty pieces 
for violin and piano, upwards of seventy piano 
solos, about seventy songs, and other smaller com- 
positions. In addition to these, he has done much 
journalistic work, and has also had his own con- 
certs and a voluminous correspondence to attend 
to. Thus it will be seen that he has not been idle ! 
In fact, he is never so happy as when his days are 
full of work. Even his pet hobbies attest this. 
These are travelling, motor-cycling, gardening, 
writing music and talking. He considers that the 
bulk of his melodic invention has owed its genesis 
to motor-cycling and travelling. 

Concerning the relationship between music and 
exercise, Plato had much to say that was interesting 


" These who are conversant in nothing but mere 
exercises turn out to be more rustic than is 
becoming; and they again who mind music alone 
are more soft than is for their honour. . . . 
Whoever then shall in the most handsome manner 
mingle exercise with music, and have these in the 
justest measure in his soul, him, we shall most 
properly call the most completely musical." Plato 
was evidently a believer in mens sana in corpore 
sano, and it is this sanity of imagination that 
attracts one to Holbrooke's music. It does not 
speak the language of the idle dreamer lulled in 
opiate slumbers as much modern music does. Hol- 
brooke, indeed, is too full of mental and physical 
activity to indulge in any states of dolce far niente. 
Sometimes, indeed, his music is marred by the 
impulsiveness due to this almost abnormally active 

He knows, however, that, as Dante makes Virgil 
say in his Inferno, "not on downy plumes, nor 
under shade of canopy reposing, fame is won." 
And Holbrooke longs for fame as other fine creative 
artists have done before him. He wants to obtain 
the recognition of his genius in his lifetime. What- 
ever treatment he receives from critics, conductors, 
pianists and singers whatever personal jealousies 
he arouses he still goes on working, and in this 
way finds a panacea for many bitternesses. He 
knows full well the significance of the old Latin 
adage, Faber quisque fortunae suae every man is 
the architect of his own fortune and he has had the 
strength and the originality to keep afloat upon the 



tide which he feels may one day lead him on to 
fortune and, unlike discouraged weaklings, he re- 
fuses to go under. He knows the value of his own 
art ; and if others fail to perceive it now, what does 
that matter? Like Napoleon, he has said, " There 
shall be no Alps," for, one day, he feels that 
posterity will set its hall-mark upon his music as 
it has upon the music of other hard-working men 
who have toiled on in the face of misunderstanding, 
doubt and neglect. He knows, too, that fine 
thoughts may live long after actions that make a 
great stir in the world are forgotten. As Hume 
once said, more people think about Virgil and 
Homer than ever trouble their heads about Caesar 
and Alexander. The pen is mightier than the 
sword in the long run. 

To Holbrooke, his art is his life I might almost 
say his idol. Everything centres around it. No 
Roman ever treasured his Penates more jealously 
than Holbrooke guards his music ; if other men 
decry it, he, at least, is there to defend it. He is 
no Laodicean with regard to his own powers. 

It is this dogged perseverance that appeals to 
one's admiration. It is the survival of the fighting 
instinct of a primitive age, and it has helped the 
composer to break down many barriers that a more 
pusillanimous competitor would have been unable 
to do. Through untiring energy nearly all his 
works have been published, whilst his name has 
appeared upon Festival programmes at an age when 
most composers are only just beginning to feel their 
feet beneath them. 


All Holbrooke's tendencies are particularly 
modern. He lives in this age and in its atmosphere, 
and has no great sympathies with byegone times. 
Neither Shakespeare or Bach appeal to him in any 
great degree. His favourite authors are Tolstoi, 
Carlyle, Zola and Poe, and his music reflects the 
modernity of his literary tastes. It is built on no 
stereotyped pattern, and scorns to cling to jejune 
and outworn formulas out of conventional respect. 
But it does not do this out of irreverence for old 
age. Autres temps autres moeurs. Holbrooke 
finds himself unable to express his individuality in 
music wearing the garb of his ancestors. A more 
strenuous age requires less regulated forms for con- 
veying its spirit, and so he frees himself from the 
burdens of the past. The idiom of his music is 
sometimes uncouth and sometimes ponderous, but 
it is of remarkable originality. And this originality 
is not a thing that is sought for with much anxiety 
and turbulence of mind. It is quite spontaneous 
and natural to the composer. We do not feel that 
he is resorting to all sorts of devices to evade the 
obvious as we do with so many modern composers. 
He is by no means a poseur in his art. He 
possesses a mind, too, pregnant with musical ideas, 
and he has a wonderful facility for inventing 
thematic material. This is particularly evidenced 
in the music of his later years. Some of his earlier 
compositions, especially those of small design, it is 
true, show many signs of eclecticism, but this is a 
weakness to which all juvenile composers are prone. 


His later works, however, are singularly free from 
this defect. 

Holbrooke is, perhaps, more successful in 
dealing with concrete than with abstract ideas, for 
most of his best music has been suggested by some 
definite pictorial subject. He has, indeed, a fine 
power of depicting strange scenes and situations to 
the mental vision by means of a masterly sense of 
tone colour. He paints with all that wealth of 
detail that distinguished the pre-Raphaelite school 
of painting, and endeavours to give every little 
nuance its place in the picture. His music is often 
full of luminous and magical suggestion, and his 
imaginative insight is very penetrating and sensi- 
tive. His mind ranges over widely different sub- 
jects with the same quickness of perception and ease 
in formulating his impressions. From the haunt- 
ing terrors of The Raven, Ulalume and The Bells 
to the dignified tragedy of The Children of Don, 
Dylan and The Song of Givyn ap Nudd and to the 
broad comedy of The Three Blind Mice Variations, 
how wide a gulf there lies ! Yet the same master- 
hand is observable at the helm of each. Occasion- 
ally, it is true, we find the composer running to 
lees and producing work quite unworthy of him, 
and his choice of subjects is not always to be com- 
mended. In certain cases, too, his music is some- 
what unregulated, though it can rarely be described 
as chaotic. 

Holbrooke has said that his supreme idea of music 
is and always has been melody first, rhythm second, 
and harmony third, and, in the opinion of the pre- 


sent writer, his work well bears out that assertion. 
Melody abounds in the many pages that he has 
written, though it is not generally the melody of 
" sugary" sweetness nor of regularly constructed 
musical sentences. It is rather the melody of more 
rugged flavour, full of vital import, and often full 
of dynamic force. As to its rhythmic variety, few 
modern composers have been more prolific than 
Holbrooke in this respect. His music abounds in 
original little turns and oddities of rhythm 1 . His 
harmony, too, is of great individuality, though 
occasionally unpolished, but if some of his effects 
have been distinguished for their ugliness, there 
are others of exceeding beauty to counter-balance 

Though Holbrooke 'has urged the claim of 
melody as the primary qualification for musical 
composition, there are many critics who have pro- 
fessed to find no signs of it in his own work. 
Wagner had to bear the same reproach in his day, 
but the world has grown wiser since then. Our 
great men teach us new languages that are not 
learnt in a day. But in the end they often become 
the speech of mankind. The true gift of melody 
is not always to be found in facile, flowing patterns 
of time-honoured fashion, but also in less regular 
phrases and more individual shapings of rhythm. 
Melody of the former type may be found in abun- 
dance in many of Holbrooke's early pianoforte 
pieces and songs, but they do not represent his 
finest work, such as the best of the orchestral poems 
and the drama Dylan do. Critics may find pleasure 


in setting up these works as scarecrows for the 
shafts of their ridicule, but custom may one day 
make them their perch and not their laughing- 
stocks. However, after all, as Clytemnestra says 
in " The Eumenides," " reproaches are the pricks 
that goad the wise," and the main thing for pos- 
terity is the fact that the composer continues 
steadily working with apparent insouciance of the 
gibes of those who have not understood him. 
"The labour we delight in physics pain" and 
Holbrooke is one of the most systematic labourers 
at his own art. 

Holbrooke's personality has also been largely 
responsible for the amount of opposition that he 
has received. He is not a man of reticences, and 
what his heart feels, his tongue speaks without any 
arriere pensee. He is fond of talking, and nobody 
talks much who does not say unwise things at times. 
Being impulsive by nature and very open in 
character, he is apt to commit indiscretions which 
he afterwards regrets. He is his own worst enemy, 
and is well aware of the fact. The hard struggles 
of his early years, however, left him self-reliant, 
and he has had to fight bravely and tenaciously for 
the position that he has gained. If he has dealt 
some rather straight blows in his time, they were 
often necessary to maintain his prestige as an 
artist. The success that he has achieved has been 
due to his genius and energy alone, and men of 
genius are hardly to be judged by the ordinary 
standards. If he has been somewhat scathing in 
his criticisms of .sprne men and their doings, it 


should also be remembered how generous he has 
been in his defence of the aims of the young Eng- 
lish school of music, and how much he has done 
to further the cause of national talent generally. 

The popular impression of Holbrooke appears to 
be that he is a man of unregulated impulses, entirely 
self-centred, but by no means self-critical. This is 
quite an erroneous view of the man. Impulsive 
he undoubtedly is, and this characteristic often 
creeps into his work, but he rarely allows his 
musical ideas to appear in print until they have 
been approved by his calmer thought. Self- 
centred he cannot be truthfully dubbed, for he 
is ever seeking for new talent in others, and 
generous in his appreciation when he believes 
that he has found it. That his thoughts are 
dominated by music is true, and that he has no 
false modesty in hesitating to attest his belief in 
the merits of much of his own creative work is also 
true ! But that is another matter ! The music, 
itself, is the first consideration, whether that of him- 
self or of anyone else. To say that he is not self- 
critical is entirely false. Most of his music passes 
through many crucibles of thought before it reaches 
its final form. A review of his general work soon 
gives evidence of this. Many of his scores have 
been greatly altered since their first conception. 
Trios have been changed into quartets and quintets 
into sextets ; pieces written for the 'cello have been 
converted into violin pieces and vice-versa; and the 
orchestration of certain other works has been 
entirely remodelled. In addition to this, there have 


been some compositions with which the composer 
has become ultimately dissatisfied, and these he 
has had no hesitation in destroying. Among this 
list might be mentioned an Ode to Victory, an 
Empire Ode, a cantata Heaven and Earth, an over- 
ture The New Renaissance, an Early Opera and an 
Oriental Fantasieff Such wholesale slaughter is 
hardly the act of a man who lacks self-criticism. 

In judging Holbrooke's works, it should be 
remembered that the order of many of the opus 
numbers does not quite represent the order in 
which those works were written. There has been 
a considerable shuffling in these numbers from time 
to time, and it is not always easy to classify his com- 
positions. The list given at the end of this volume 
may be taken as fairly accurate, however. 

It would be futile to endeavour to predict the 
future in store for Holbrooke's music, but the com- 
poser has gone on from strength to strength, and we 
may look forward with confidence to the further 
evolution of his genius. That English music has 
made a great advance during the last few decades, 
there can be no doubt. But we must not be too 
puffed up by insular pride. There is still much to 
be done. Dogmatic assertions as to the course 
which our zukunstmusik is likely to take are useless, 
but I fancy that it will lie somewhere in the direction 
that our best modern English composers are travel- 
ling. But we have no oracle of Delphi to whom we 
may appeal in order "to sound the bottom of the 

Holbrooke's music, as we have seen, is modern 


in all it tendencies. We rarely find in it the calm 
peacefulness of the old masters, but are confronted 
with the restlessness and fever of life instead. It 
is particularly characteristic of our present-day 
English mode of living in this respect, and only 
the spirit of the present time could have called it 
forth ; and as Goethe makes Faust say to Wagner 
in his drama : 

" What spirit of the times you call 
Good sirs, is but your spirit after all 
In which the times are seen reflected." 



MOST of Holbrooke's work in musical criticism 
has been done in "The Saturday Review," the 
" New Age," and the " English Review," though 
he has occasionally contributed to other journals. 
He has written much under his own name, but he 
has also used various noms-de-plume such as 
" Phoenix," "Saint Joseph," " The Raven," and 
" Ixion " in other cases. 

His criticisms scarcely touch upon the music of 
the older masters at all, but his pen has been almost 
exclusively dedicated to advancing the cause of 
modern music, and of the English composers in 
particular, and to showing up the abuses and 
absurdities that deface our musical life. These 
matters are of far more vital importance to him than 
the claims of ancient art. 

His style of writing is singularly galvanic and 
impulsive. When he wishes to score a point he 
often does so in language as forcible as the blow 
of a hammer. Generally, though, he expresses 



his opinions in a confidential chatty sort of manner, 
which, in spite of occasional outbursts of 
vehemence, are never delivered in the ex cathedra 
fashion so much favoured by more dogmatic 
critics. The personal note is nearly always 
sounded in his writings. He pens these critical 
articles not only on behalf of English music gener- 
ally, but also with the attempted object of removing 
the hindrances that bar the progress of his own art 

But however much he may feel the neglect that 
good native art suffers in this country, he is never 
bitter. He has the saving quality of humour that 
enables him to take a broad outlook on men and 
things in general. He is cynical at times and 
severe at times, but his ready wit redeems his asser- 
tions from all trace of vindictiveness. And he has 
no aversion to turning his wit against himself 

As to his judgments on musical matters, these 
are not always sufficiently raisonnes. The impul- 
siveness of his nature leads him to sudden enthu- 
siasms and to too hastily expressed opinions. A 
good critical balance is not therefore maintained in 
his writings. His great sympathy with English 
art often leads him to over-estimate the value of 
much of it, whilst in his zeal he often neglects the 
just claims of the foreigner. 

. His opinions of the work of different composers, 
however, is interesting. Of Wagner's Ring, he 
says: " The music of the 'Ring' is one long 
sermon, and it is not going to grow in favour as 


time goes on. The interminable yawns of Wotan 
and the still more trying episode of Brunnhilde in 
the * Gotterdamerung ' will be remembered. They 
are cases to the point. 

" I do not know in the whole realm of operatic 
endeavour a more wearisome entertainment than 
the ' Ring ' without cuts. Wagner, to my mind, 
was always too long winded, even in ' Rienzi,' 
' Lohengrin,' and the earlier operas. But he seems 
to have saved himself up with a vengeance for the 

* Mastersinger ' and the ' Ring,' the result being 
the most conclusive proof of Wagner's mighty 
power as a musician pure and simple, and the most 
fearful proof of -his incapacity in his so-called 
philosophy the world has yet seen." 

In another place, too, he speaks of the plot of the 
" Ring " as being "a most extraordinary and 
illogical piece of work," and continues : 

"The * Ring,' as my readers may very well 
know, is made the raison d'etre of this gigantic 
scheme; but it seems to me that every one who is 
unfortunate enough to possess the ring has no 
power at all with it. Yet the teaching of Wagner's 

* potted ' version of these legends makes the ring 
all-powerful to those who possess it although at 
the same time a fearful curse is attached to it and 
yet no one, not even Brunnhilde, can use the power 
when she is attacked by Siegfried in the ' Dusk of 
the Gods. 1 " 

For Hugo Wolf's songs, Holbrooke has no great 
admiration, though, as he says, " his indubitable 
power cannot be blinked at by any musician worthy 


of the name," and he goes on to add some qualify- 
ing words : 

11 Wagner met him with scant courtesy : even 
near to contumely. It is strange ! Perhaps the 
terrible furnace we all, as artists, have to go through 
makes many of us impervious to merit elsewhere ; 
yet the effect should be quite the opposite." 

Our composer, however, has a great admiration 
for Richard Strauss, whom he considers "the 
greatest musical tone-painter in the world." After 
hearing the " Sinfonia Domestica," however, he 
says that, in his opinion, it contains "a vast deal 
of * horrid noise ' pure and unadulterated horrid 
noise." He thinks that Mr. H. G. Wells might 
give an explanation of it, " for no one on earth 
could so well divine these mammoth noises." His 
opinion of Sibeluis is far from flattering, though 
he has a few words of praise for two of his sym- 
phonies; but he considers the songs " horrid " and 
the piano pieces "stupid," rivalling " Wein- 
gartner in stodge and Reger in clumsiness." For 
the work of Mahler and Bruckner he 'has little 
sympathy, though he professes to find some of the 
music of Saint-Saens " pretty." 

To turn next to Holbrooke's opinion of the work 
of some of our English musicians, we find him 
holding a high opinion of Elgar's work, and 
speaking of the beautiful "tone poem " " Geron- 
tius," which he does not think the composer will 
ever surpass. He likes Bantock's piano pieces, 
and also many of his songs. For the work of 
Delius he has also an immense admiration, and 


says: " The ' Shelley ' songs by Delius, or some 
of the ' Sappho ' songs by Bantock, bring us all 
close together, where we have the welfare of English 
music at heart." 

Holbrooke also has words of appreciation for 
Sullivan's " charming gift for lyric melody with an 
utter absence of commonplace." He adds, " At 
least Sullivan made many, many of us happy, under 
his light spell : this is more than can be said of the 
4 heavy heavies ' and the profound big-wigs, who 
at present reign at our colleges, and regale us 
every year with a half-dozen 'masterpieces.'" 

He considers that Edward Agate's songs show 
great genius " It is revealed in his harmony; in 
his most original atmosphere; and greatest of all, 
in his melodies." His opinion of Albert Mallinson 
is that he has " been guilty of some of the strongest 
English songs and some of the weakest " that he 
distinctly belongs to '* lyric," and he is not happy 
in mystic or nebulous worlds but that " his 
Songs of Sappho bid fair to raise English art a 

Speaking of the most characteristic qualities of 
English music of the old school, he describes it as 
44 good, correct harmony, straightforward melodic 
line, and a frock-coated sense of form, which puts 
a * clergymanic ' pall over us." He continues: 
il I confess this sort of music, listened to with 
pleasure, as it may be, by the heads of our teaching 
academies and universities, does not interest me a 
small bit. . . > 

44 England's music craves a character, and that 


right soon. A strong one that will be, like the 
nation; not a barley-water mixture of common 
tunes and conceptions, with this chronic absence of 
warm colouring; in other words, that much-abused 
word, and scarce quality, original imagination." 

And Holbrooke believes that a better state of 
musical art is beginning to dawn in England, for 
he says : * * We have no piano literature to vie with 
Schumann or Beethoven, but I think this will come. 
Our versatility in art at present is really amazing; 
and far superior to Russia, Germany or France. 
Where can any other race show so many depart- 
ments or varieties of endeavour? Our outlook is 
big in song, orchestra, chamber-music, drama and 

But 'he sees the danger in the path of modern 
musicians and the weakness that mars so much of 
their work, for, in another place, he says concern- 
ing musical advance, " Apart from the men who 
feel deeply and are few in number, I should un- 
hesitatingly say that the advance is in technique. 
The great preponderance of composers of our time 
are expressing technique only ; and true, deep, 
feeling is absent. The result is that music is 
getting scientific, which I deprecate greatly, instead 
of being emotional or, I should prefer to say, being 
impressionic of ideas, if I may coin a word for 
myself. Candidly, I believe that ideas are scarce. 
What is not scarce is the power of building up 
sound. You can get as many men as would stretch 
from here to the North Pole to build you up a Gar- 
gantuan mountain of sound with a Gargantuan 


number of instruments. Many of those who do not 
like my work oh ! I know a lot of them exist - 
might say that I include myself in this category, 
for I am known for incorporating many new instru- 
ments in my orchestra. I do this, however, not for 
the sake of developing sound, but because of the 
new colours and pictures which the poems I select 
for setting evoke and seem to demand from me, for 
modern poetry 'has in it more imagery than that of 
the dead and gone poets. . . . As I have said, 
it is technique which is obsessing the whole musical 
atmosphere at present. It fills up all kinds of voids 
in which musical feeling is absent. To me the 
modern trend of music is Satanic. It seems to 
express a Paganism which I strongly deprecate. It 
goes against faith, and when a man comes out who 
is imbued with faith like Elgar, he is at once a 
luminous figure. Elgar's work is always religious, 
and I use the word in its broadest sense, not narrow- 
ing it to any sect or creed. In that respect he is 
like Cesar Franck, who is, to my mind, one of the 
greatest modern masters. So far as the future 
goes, I feel that music is going to deal more and 
more with poetry. The two together begin to form 
a speech, and it is my belief that in time to come 
music will be, as Mr. William Wallace recently 
hinted, the ethics of the world." 

In spite of the great improvement manifested in 
English music of late years, Holbrooke is quick to 
recognise the small support that it receives from 
both the publisher and the nation at large. He 
writes : " Among the highest classes of our Society 


there is no evident desire to get on close terms with 
their own art work. Nearly the whole of the nation 
is commercial in instinct. Hence our wealth. This 
all-pervading atmosphere of the business-side of 
things will for ever kill any deep-rooted artistic 
power. The proof is in the trouble at present 
existing with all our publishers. They all, to a 
man, cater solely for what they know they will have 
a fair or good market for. They do not, once in 
fifty cases, invest in a Symphony, Sonata, or 
chamber-work; they do not ever make such an 
exception ! Thus the iniquitous state of things 
existing. After all, we do most fervently desire a 
School of our own in opera, chamber-music, sym- 
phony and song. But the rich must make a little 
sacrifice for it, or the flower will wither if it is not 
already withering. This is my terminus. We 
have the young men honestly I believe, but we must 
do something for them; if they are content to remain 
poor, surely we do not also want them to die ? ' ' 

He suggests that the young English musician 
might receive much greater benefit than he does 
from the " Patron's Fund,'* a grant of some twenty- 
seven thousand pounds from Mr. Ernest Palmer to 
advance the general cause of music in this country. 
At present, he points out that the only result of the 
grant is that ** we give a couple of concerts a year, 
of works that we think worthy of performance, and 
we help indigent fiddlers and hare-brained pianists 
to go to the ' vaterland ' to ' finish ' their studies. 
We bring out periodically young songsters, and 



we, at times, produce works of the old masters 
whkh rarely get a chance in the programmes of 
to-day! " 

He complains that the young composer obtains 
little advantage by this grant. Why not put aside 
some of the " fund " to publish and perform often, 
some of the most promising works of high aim of 
young British art, he asks ! The cause of musical 
advance would be much better benefited by these 
means. In another place he suggests that all 
artists should club up in a shilling fund, to the 
establishment of a capital to publish and perform 
a work or works. He is always very earnest and 
enthusiastic in the cause of British music. 

Concerning music in general, and his own in 
particular, Holbrooke has much that is interesting 
to say. 

" Music is an expression of feeling, and if I may 
say so, it is a case of very intense feeling. When 
you thoroughly realise this, that it is the expression 
of feeling and nothing more, then you will appre- 
ciate my contention that the man who can feel 
deeply, who has had to feel deeply, and is feeling 
deeply over the circumstances of his own life, and of 
life in general, will feel music more than others, or, 
given the divine and beautiful gift of music, will 
write the finest music. I do not think it matters in 
a measure whether he has been taught or not. 
Teaching, in large measure, is thrown away when it 
comes to the expression of ideas, and at best it helps 
only in small details. That, at least, is my 
experience, though I am perfectly free to admit that 


a great many people believe that teaching makes a 
musician ! It is for this reason that there are so 
many disappointed students. Teaching makes 
nothing but a teacher. 

" From what I have said, you will gather that, 
in my belief, all my music is the song of my own 
feelings, as I believe that the music of all other 
musicians is the song of their own feelings. If a 
man honestly feels, he will make other people feel, 
and this is what Wagner did. If he does not 
honestly feel, or if his work is only the work of 
teaching, he will not do any good. Schubert, who 
had no teaching worth speaking about, wrote a 
colossal amount of music, and has hit the world 
harder than most other men. I mean, of course, in 
music. He has expressed himself in the terms I 
have spoken of of very intense emotion, which he 
himself experienced." 

Holbrooke has very definite ideas concerning 
the weaknesses of "programme music" and the 
limitations of his art generally. 

" The hopeless conception of music is that it can 
do anything. I don't believe it. I never have 
believed it, and I never shall believe it. I know 
music can do hardly anything. My reason for this 
belief is that it is absolutely indefinite. It is some- 
thing you cannot seize upon and hold : it is in the 
air, Personally, I wish it was not so limited in its 
scope, for then one might be able to do ' some- 
thing ' with it ! As it is, it dwells in tones, and 
that is such a nebulous quality one cannot relegate 
it to any particular sphere. It belongs to all parts 


of our universe like the atmosphere. I may go so 
far as to say that in my opinion wireless telegraphy 
and music are both to be married, if I may use the 
expression. Wireless telegraphy depends on elec- 
tricity, and I think music is an electrical condition 
of the brain. . . . It is really all suggestion, 
not expression. Music can express love and happi- 
ness as well as sorrow, but if I wanted to prove to 
you the narrowness of the limits of music, I might 
write a love theme which was full of warmth and 
movement, and anyone hearing it and being asked 
to state what impression it conveyed to his mind, 
might reply that it illustrated the busy life of a 
factory ! Personally, I am free to admit that I 
should not be offended at such a description, for I 
appreciate the limits of music in expressing con- 
crete ideas. Besides, love is a questionable feeling. 
It varies with the individual, and therefore its 
musical expression must vary in the same way. 
My idea may be higher or lower than that of the 
next man, and if our ideas of the thing itself vary, 
it follows that the expression of them must also 
vary. For this reason I believe that everyone 
should listen to music with his own ears, and should 
find out for himself what it means to him, and no 
one should be ashamed of stating what that mean- 
ing is. As I have Said, the same piece of music 
may mean something different to every different 
person. In exactly the same way, although the 
words of a poem must convey the same thought to 
everyone because the words mean only that and 
nothing more, yet, out of that poem, different men 


may get different ideas, possibly even for other 
poems, and the same man may get different ideas 
at different times. In other words, an emotional 
art cannot be moulded to one form and compelled 
to retain that form at all times and all seasons. 
Music, then, is the most suggestive art in the world. 
In that capacity I give it you : there is an unlimited 
power behind it, possessed by no other art." 

Holbrooke warns the young composer against 
trying to be original in music, for, as he says, " It 
won't come off; it never has done; and it never 
will : it will fool and ' bespangle ' his listeners for 
awhile ; and then the * effort ' wears like a funny 
story told too many times." 

He also expresses himself as a revolutionary 
against modern conservatism 1 in many instances. 
With regard to " musical form " he says: 

"To my mind, music is travelling in only one 
direction. This is the direction in which it has 
.been going since the era of John Sebastian Bach. 
The direction is towards a more highly-developed 
technique and intensity of expression. Apart from 
that there is nothing. I suppose this view will be 
a fearful blow to the people who are always talking 
about form in music. By this they mean the form 
which has been buildup by the classical composers. 
These people go about talking of symphonies and 
sonatas which are supposed to fill all the needs of a 
modern civilisation. They refuse to admit that a 
modern man will not and cannot be bound down 
to the principles that governed the older com- 


These views, however, are considerably modified 
in the following words : 

" The strict style of development is still with 
us ; and we, moreover, feel a void when we have it 
not. I have, and always have had, a great respect 
and admiration for all * form ' ; it is the living and 
vital force in all great classic art. Without it, we 
are confronted with the most insane things, from 
so-called young composers, young painters, young 
writers, etc., in 'symphonic poems,' 'nocturnes,' 
etc. Where ' form ' is not, a ' symphonic poem * 
is usually found ! I speak largely when I say 
' form.' I am glad of any kind of ' form ' if the 
great classical pillar is not of the power of our 
writers, as it evidently is by its scarcity." 

With regard to harmonic freedom, Holbrooke, 
in commenting on the work of one of his contem- 
poraries, says, concerning his extraordinary use of 
discords, " They are not resolved, and I do not wish 
them resolved. . . ." 

The composer's opinions as to the weakness of 
"programme music" have already been quoted, 
and he says in another place: "Let programme 
music beaters then shudder at the incomplete means 
of music, and return to absolute music or the 
wedding of music with poetry." For according to 
another observation : " The ' Symphonic-Poem ' 
which I have decided to abandon that for elaborate 
orchestra, speaking alone is not going to be a 
staple commodity. This I feel. ... No one 
cares what the Symphonic Poems of Richard 
Strauss mean ; they like the music, and there it 


Concerning the flaws that undermine our musical 
system, Holbrooke is particularly scathing in his 
remarks concerning the treatment meted out to 
English composers at our large musical festivals. 
He writes : 

" Regarding Provincial Festivals of Music 
there can be only one opinion for good. Good 
for what? Well, here many of us must hesitate 
for of late there has been a mania for conductors, 
while a little while ago it was for prima-donnas ! 
To any fair mind the benefit of all such Festivals, 
whether inaugurated for charity or otherwise, 
should affect mostly the creator of the music. I 
venture to ask, does it? The artist who fills his 
programme with his intellectual produce gets, in 
most cases, no funds, but some mention in the press, 
which, although interesting, is very unfair. The 
singers had the salary of yore ; now the conductor 
steps in. Perhaps the creator of music Festivals 
will come next and last ! I remember Dvorak 
asking (poor man) for his expenses in travelling of 
a Festival Secretary here (Norwich), and being 
refused ! Music Festivals will soon be for music 
and its makers : then charity and conductors 
(some of them swallow the whole profits of a 
festival) will come in their proper place." 

Holbrooke himself has nearly always asked a fee 
for conducting his works at Festivals, whilst he has 
also asked for his travelling expenses, considering 
that a composer and a labourer should at least be 
worthy of his hire. If all composers were to make 
as firm a stand as he has done, there might even- 


tually be a better balanced and more equitable dis- 
tribution of the fees paid out by the different 
Festival Committees. As it is, Holbrooke's name 
has not appeared on Festival programmes for some 
time. Has his independence of action in demand- 
ing payment for his work been the cause of this ? 
If so, the cause of true art in this country is in a 
poor way indeed. Holbrooke also comments upon 
other trials that the poor composer has to suffer : 

" I might say that it is hardly conducive for the 
composer ever to write for the full orchestra. Take 
the case, let us say, of a choral work. The vocal 
score is always published, of course and generally 
with profit to the composer and to the publisher. 
The full score of the work is invariably kept in 
manuscript and given to the publisher without any 
extra fee whatever. No one ever hears of a royalty 
for this part of his art, or even of a share of the 
performing fees which are charged by publishers. 
Again, if the score is printed, still no ' equivalent ' 
comes to the composer." 

Holbrooke, too, criticises the mania of conductors 
for producing novelties which, when once pro- 
duced, are never performed again. Of what use is 
this to the composer, he asks ! No publisher will 
look at a work unless, at least, a second and third 
hearing of the work can be guaranteed. Among 
other modern abuses, he also cites that of "com- 
petition,** in which the time of so many composers 
is wasted in producing work that is valueless to 
them afterwards from a commercial point of view. 
He illustrates this by referring to the Norwich Com- 


petition, won by Julius Harrison, which he truly 
says " has placed some fifty composers with useless 
settings of ' Cleopatra ' ! " 

In an article on " Deadheads'* he has severely 
criticised those people who sponge upon artists and 
expect "free tickets" for all kinds of musical 
functions. It is the people in good circumstances, 
too, whom he asserts to be the worst culprits in this 
respect, " for poorer people I have never found 
lower themselves to this extent, the extent of asking 
for free tickets, when they perchance had a merry 
rent-roll of many hundreds a year." 

He continues in the following strain : 

" Poor souls ! they cannot in the disgusting 
meanness of their hearts ever pay. No ; the artists 
must try to creep along on crutches and support 
this selfishness. They nearly all do ; and the result 
is an appalling assembly of artists, each and all 
earning barely sufficient to keep body and soul 
together. Indeed, the time is not far distant when 
I myself had no pence for a meal, cheap as food is ; 
yet I was, on the very first venture in concert 
giving, confronted and waylaid by my * best 
friends ' for free seats thuswise : I'm so fond of 
your beautiful music. We so much want to come 
to your concert ! You must send us tickets. Now, 
don't forget ! Of course, I forgot ! " 

With regard to the abuses attaching to musical 
criticism, he says: " The general tenor of the 
critic's outlook and desire is to propitiate the 
powers that be, and thereby to keep his job against 
all competitors ! This will exolain his canny 


ejaculations concerning those big-wigged music 
men who may have influence for bad or good, and 
also his trenchant criticism of the smaller ones who 
he thinks are unable to return his attacks, but whom 
he might benefit by his help." Again, " One of 
our composers told me he could get what he liked 
in a certain daily paper because one of the critics 
had been a fellow student with him in Germany.*' 
In Holbrooke's opinion, one of the great abuses 
of musical life is the rivalry that exists among 
artists. He considers that in no other profession 
is it so keen and vindictive. "I try to imagine 
Herrick and Byron in the same room ! Nearly as 
dangerous an experiment as two tenors or two 
sopranos closeted together. I am convinced 
nothing would come out of the said room after 
fifteen minutes, but feathers, so great would the 
entente be ! Let brotherly love continue for ever. 
Can anyone outside the musical world imagine how 
vindictive, how wicked, how * intense ' the artistic 
' love-feeling ' is, when it comes to rivalry They 
would not credit it, and perhaps it is as well they 
do not knowi these things. My experiences, how- 
ever, put me in the unfortunate plight of knowing 
only too well this fearful ' trait ' in so-called artists. 
There are not many English musicians to whom 
the name of Holbrooke is not anathema ! especially 
the older school ! As Henry Coward is reported 
to have said, * I have many enemies and many 
friends, and I love them both ! Enemies are 
essential to progress/' Dreadful as it sounds, it 
is true." 


Holbrooke's series of articles, entitled "Weird 
Opinions," that appeared in the pages of " Musical 
Opinion," are written in " dialogue " form, and 
are intended to demonstrate the narrow-mindedness 
and occasional crass ignorance that distinguish 
so many different sections of musical life. We are 
introduced to the opinons of publishers, organists, 
German and English conductors, French and Eng- 
lish composers, critics, singers, musical enthu- 
siasts, and so on, concerning music as it affects 
them personally. These people never see beyond 
their own horizon, and the dialogues in which they 
are made to indulge are written with a good deal 
of humour, and with a cynical comprehension of 
the evils that lie at the root of their ignorance. Hol- 
brooke has, in this instance, used a nom-de-plume , 
and, protected by this, has often poked sly fun at 
the opinions prevalent among certain classes con- 
cerning his own work. 

In these "Weird Opinions'* the publishers 
discuss the subject of the publication of music of 
high aim. The public won't look at it, so why 
purchase it, they say ! " What do you find goes 
nowadays?" one publisher asks; "nigger tunes 
or piano pieces? " " Nigger tunes every time ! " 
is the other publisher's reply. "We sold five 
thousand to Australia last week of our budget of 
1 Black v. White ' Dance Album. I think that the 
title we had before was hardly as good. It was, 
you remember, ' The New Country ' Quadrilles. 
There's money in our dance albums I can tell you. 
Minim and Co. were only telling me the other day 


in Oxford Street that their firm's chief revenue 
came from the arrangements of those lovely comedy 
operas from the theatre." 

The cathedral organists discuss musical festivals 
run by themselves and the absurdity of composers 
expecting fees for conducting their own works. " I 
don't know what is coming over the composers 
lately. They all say that they are poor and want 
payment, but I should think that they would be 
much better advised if they were not so keen on 
their payment, They would hear their works per- 
formed, and would in all probability be invited to 
the mayor's luncheon, which would do them no end 
of good." The same organists also express their 
dislike for modern music on account of the extra 
work that it entails in preparation for performance, 
whilst one of them has something to say concern- 
ing Holbrooke's own work, " When Holbrooke 
asked for eighteen concertinas for his ' Bells ' 
poem, I hired some harmoniums and that satisfied 
him ; for, of course, no one plays the concertina 
nowadays." The following " opinion " is also 
amusing : " I remember that Thomas Beecham 
had great trouble finding a bass oboe for Delius, 
and at last they found a property instrument for 
him, used by a juggler or some such fellow on the 
stage, you know, but which emitted no sound ! Of 
course, the composer did not know whether the 
instrument was playing or not, so it passed off ; 
and I later heard that some of the critics said that 
the instrument had a quaint and soft tone! These 
poor critics are really the limit." 


Two conductors conversing say : 

"I get all my best effects out of the brass, as 
you know. The percussion is, of course, most 
important : but except isolated instances (take, for 
instance, the ' Heldenleben ' poem by Strauss, with 
its fine percussion effects), I can never get any effect 
for the conductor. And this, to me, seems absurd. 
How can we do these heavy works if we have no 
chance of applause for ourselves ? ' ' 

" It is useless to laugh at it. Applause is, as 
you say, the life and soul of conducting : without 
it we may as well become composers." , 

Again, " We had a huge ' poem ' by one of our 
young composers in which about twenty extra men 
were required; it was a most elaborate piece of 
writing. I rehearsed this work in twenty-five 
minutes, and it takes forty-five minutes in per- 
formance ! How's that?" 

Two critics also give voice to their grievances, 
and speak of the lack of sympathy that they receive 
from composers whether they praise or condemn 
them. One speaks of " that ghastly poem 
Ulalume," and also says "Conductors now are 
so full of conceit that they wish to give some 
stupendous reading of a well-known work which 
will outplace Nikisch or Safonoff. What we all 
want is regular performances of the serious works 
by Delius, Walford Davies, Bantock or Scott, so 
that the critics may be able to write something con- 
fidently about them." 

A male flatterer speaking to a lady singer says 
that he hopes she makes the publishers pay for sing- 


ing their ballads. " Oh, we make them pay where 
we can," she says, " they are not really bad people 
to deal with if you do what they want and if you 
sing their songs. It really is to our advantage to 
meet them ; for we certainly get all our engagements 
through singing those beautiful ballads I sang last 
night. That one called ' Jonah ' with the refrain 
is, to me, beyond praise." 

" By Jove, you are right; it brought down the 
house. And you had eight recalls, did you not ? " 

"No; nine, I think." 

In a dialogue between two musical enthusiasts 
after a Halle concert in Manchester, Richter comes 
in for a good deal of criticism for conducting so 
little modern music, whilst Beecham is commended 
for doing what Richter has neglected to do. 

Two recital organists, in conference, speak of the 
" frantic " pieces of Reger and the interference of 
their vicars in matters musical, whilst they also 
pride themselves on the publication of several 
anthems and organ pieces, all of which, however, 
have been presented to the publishers without a 

A German conductor and a German composer 
discuss the chances of success for a German 
musician in England, and decide that he would do 
well there, even if he were a failure in Germany. 

German Composer: Yes, perhaps we do not 
belong to the front rank; but that fact will not 
matter in England ! 

German Conductor: No, we are safe there. 
We can give our works, and I think we may expect 


much praise from their so-called critics. It is the 
press which is so kind to us in England. I am 
delighted with it. 

Later, the conductor says " Nearly all of us do 
well in music because we have our great masters 
behind us. It is true that we have nearly starved 
all of them, but we have the credit of their great 
works. This is of very great use to us when we 
travel, as you know; besides, there is nothing that 
the English people like so much as * flummery.' A 
foreign musician is their delight, you will see, my 

Of the lack of the artistic feeling in the Scotch, 
the conductor also has his opinion. " Do you not 
know that there is nothing that the Scotch dislike 
more than art ; but they do not wish to betray them- 
selves in the remotest degree as barbarians, so they 
fuse up a fictitious and flimsy interest, often inter- 
larded with their whisky toddy, and they pose as 
small art patrons. They have never yet been able 
to stand up as a fosterer of their men of genius in 
music. It is true that of composers they are desti- 
tute, when it comes to genius ; but there is a good 
heavy and pedestrian traffic done in music by 
various Scots here and there." 

In another of these "Weird Opinions" a 
Frenchman has to acknowledge to an English com'^ 
poser, "It is impossible for the finest orchestral 
players to understand the works that they play in 
manuscript when a hurried rehearsal is given, and 
when the conductor himself is not certain of his 
score. It is a tragedy for composers ; and I do not 


see where they can improve even in their mere 
technique if they are to be heard so scantily." 

Later "Opinions" deal with competitions and 
their abuses. In one of these, a " philanthropist " 
is made to say, " The elaboration is necessary in 
modern art. You surely cannot wish for the same 
things to be said every succeeding century ? The 
same harmonic basis and the same dull melody? " 

Two composers, speaking together, bemoan the 
welcome given to the foreigner to the detriment of 
the English composer, for, as one of them says, 
" I have never seen or heard any English music 
abroad unless it was performed by its composers ! 
I can recollect one or two efforts made on Delius's 
behalf, also on Elgar's; but it did not grow. It 
died away because the work by their own men 
touches them more acutely, as indeed it should. 
It will need to be very extraordinary and fine before 
the continental audiences will listen to any music in 
preference to that of their own Richard Strauss and 
Max Reger." 

I take my last extract from a dialogue between 
two English publishers. 

" You find the German engrossed in his Strauss, 
the Frenchman in his Debussy, the Russian in his 
Tschaikowsky, and so on ; but I have never yet 
found such a feeling existing here, except for the 
solitary hero, like Elgar for instance. After all, 
there are more than a few fine writers, and it is time 
that we heard a little more of them." 

In accordance with which I agree and proceed 
with my task. 



Op. 3 Six Pieces (Violin). 

Op. 5 Two Poems (Violin). 

Op. 6 (a) Sonata (Violin). 

P- 8 (5) Valse Characteristique (Violin). 

Op. 12 Nine Pieces (Violin). 

Op. 23 (Nos. i, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) Six Pieces 


Op. 6 (b) Adagio and Rondo (Clarinet). 
Op. 8 (Nos. i, 2, 3 and 4) Four Pieces 

Op. 19 Fantasie Sonata (Violoncello). 

HOLBROOKE'S works for the above combinations, 
like many for the piano alone, were chiefly written 
to earn bread and butter. Therefore, in spite of a 
persuasive charm that distinguishes many of them, 
they cannot generally be ranked with his later pro- 

The Six Petits morceaux of Op. 3 for violin and 
piano, dedicated to Granville Bantock, all belong 
to the composer's earliest days. Some are 
pleasingly wistful, others are dainty and merry in 

63 6 


tune, but they work no deeper emotional vein. In 
all these pieces, moreover, the piano plays quite a 
subordinate part to the melody uttered by the 
violin, though there are a few primitive attempts, 
here and there, to lend it interest. Gener- 
ally, however, the piano part is little more than an 
accompaniment to the string part. 

In the Two Poems for violin and piano of Opus 
5, there is a much more intimate interweaving of 
the two parts. The melodies are less trivial, and, 
if not great, are at least sincere. There is some- 
thing of real poetic charm about Une Legende, the 
basis for whose inspiration is to be found in Eric 
Mackay's well-known lines. 

" The forest flowers are faded, all 

The winds complain, the snowflakes fall, 

Eleanore ! 

I turn to thee as to a bower, 

Thou breathest beauty like a flower, 

Thou smilest like a happy hour, 

Eleanore! " 

This piece opens with four bars of an impressive 
and imposing nature for the piano alone, and then 
the violin begins to sigh out a beautiful and 
dolorous air lento expressivo molto. 

Une Ballade, if not quite so interesting as the last 
poem, is of very considerable merit. To it is 
appended the following lines from the same poet 
whose verses inspired Une Legende: 


" There is a grammar of the lips and eyes, 
And I have learnt it. There are tokens sure 
Of trust and love, and I have found them pure. 
Is love the guerdon then? is love the prize? 
It is ! It is ! We find it in the skies, 
And here on earth 'tis all that will endure." 

This piece is written in " D " in six-four time, 
and considerable independence is given to the 
piano part, which, on the whole, is better conceived 
than the violin part. 

The Sonatina (Op. 6a), dedicated to Fritz 
Kreisler, is one of the bigger works that Holbrooke 
has written for the violin. It is in four move- 
ments, and is in the strict classic form. It is a 
bright and pleasant composition, despite its rather 
commonplace themes. It touches no emotional 
depths, but skates pleasantly over the surface of 
things. The first movement Allegro opens 
vigorously in A minor with a well-defined rhythm 
of an optimistic cast, and is followed by an expres- 
sive dolce air starting off in D major, which is really 
the first subject of the movement, the preceding 
bars being more of an introductory nature. A 
bridge passage of five bars for the piano alone then 
leads into the first section of the second subject in 
D minor, in which the piano part has the greater 
interest. This merges into the second section of 
the second subject a broadly-phrased melody in 
C, of a rather obvious cast. The development 
portion of the movement is short, and the recapitu- 
lation follows a fairly normal course. 

The Nocturne adagio e molto expressive 


though melodious, is not so well imagined as the 
first movement. It is of too facile a pattern to be 
of much significance, though it has many winsome 

The Scherzo is delightful, and is, in many re- 
spects, the best portion of the Sonata. It is in 
three-four time in the key of D minor. 

The last movement Rondo has a bright and 
buoyant theme of a similar type to those themes 
with which the pages of French light opera have 
made us familiar. There is a fete champetre air 
about this. 

Although this sonata has no really serious 
thoughts or depths of emotion, it is uniformly 
genial and happy. Its chief weakness lies in the 
lack of homogeneity of the different movements and 
in the consequent scrappiness of effect, and also in 
a certain poverty of thematic material and of 
thematic development. Yet, despite these dis- 
qualifications, it shows many signs of budding 

The "Valse Characteristique " (Op. 8) is 
commonplace, whilst, amongst the numbers of Op. 
12, Moorish Dance is bright and vivacious, and Alia 
Napolitana is a dance-measure in six-eight time 
which obtains a fair mead of character from the 
downward droop of each section of its first theme, 
to which the piano lends a few simple and effective 
touches. It is a good concert-piece of light nature. 
Valse-Sertnade is a graceful, suave number of 
simple charm with the main melody well appor- 
tioned between the two instruments. A dotted- 


crochet figure is a prominent feature of this piece. 
The Caprice is very brilliant, and quite the best 
number of the set. It starts off with a bustling 
pragmatical passage for the violin over a simple 
4 'vamping" accompaniment in the piano-part. 
This is followed by a vigorous, march-like air, which 
makes its first appearance as a solo for the piano. 

The Serenade Orientale of Op. 23 is one of the 
most original of Holbrooke's compositions for the 
violin and piano. Six bars for the latter instru- 
ment alone precede the entry of the subject for the 
string instrument. In this, syncopation plays a 
prominent part, and the bare piano accompaniment 
lends much effect to the general atmosphere. 

Humoresque is jaunty and lively, but, in spite of 
some effectively combined themes for the two 
instruments, does not rise to a very high level. 
Remembrance has good moments, and is generally 
graceful in the turn of its phrases, but its leading 
melody is slightly desultory and monotonous. 
Souvenir de printemps is much more interesting, 
and it has proved one of the most popular of all 
Holbrooke's violin works, and has also been 
arranged for pianoforte solo, organ solo, and for 
small orchestra. Popularity, alone, does not count 
for much, however ; it often covers a multitude of 
sins. Nevertheless, in this case it has fairly well 
justified itself. The piece, though a mere frag- 
ment, is of a simple, appealing nature, replete with 
fragrant charm. 

The Adagio and Rondo (Op. 6b) for clarinet and 
piano is a very early work, though it only made its 



appearance in print a few years ago. On the face 
of it, it is patent that it was written at a time of life 
when ideas had not begun to pour very generously 
into the composer's musical exchequer. It harks 
back to the past for its sentiment and for its cadre, 
and borrows something of the Handelian spirit to 
work upon. 

Among Holbrooke's other small published works 
are four short pieces for mandoline, guitars and 
piano. Three of them Bon Jour, Entr'acte and 
Serenade Arabienne are in light-hearted mood, 
whilst Nocturne is more plaintive in its sentiment, 
but none are particularly distinctive. 

Though Souvenir (Op. 23 No. 3) and Novelette 
(Op. 42 No. 10) have been arranged for 'cello and 
piano, Holbrooke has only written one original 
work for this combination. 

This is the Fantasie Sonate (Op. 19), a work of 
considerable melodic attractiveness based on classic 
models. Its different movements flow into one 
another without any cessation of the musical cur- 
rent throughout, and its moods, though simple, are 
always powerfully and pleasantly expressed. It 
opens molto allegro fuoco in the key of G minor 
with a bold theme for the piano in six-four time. 


*** ' 

The second subject is in B flat major, and is of 
a smooth and flowing character. Later, we have a 
poco adagio expressive in twelve eight time, id 
which there is a happy blending of thematic 
matter. A very pleasing and bustling little theme 
also asserts itself in the last portion of the work, 
This is full of infectious animation, although 
interrupted for a time by a poco meno mosso section 
by way of contrast. 

The work terminates with some bravura passages 
in the key in which it began. The piano writing 
of this Sonata is particularly fine, and is full of 
independent interest. 

These early compositions for violin, clarinet, 
mandoline and violoncello with piano, however, 
cannot be taken as representative of the composer 
in any way. They are just offshoots from the 
parent stock in the same way that the tender sprouts 
that spring to life beneath a giant oak owe their 
origin to its branching roots; but the value of the 
tree is judged, not by the saplings that it creates 
in its exuberance, but by the stateliness of its own 
towering strength. 



Op. 7 Six Songs. 

Op. n Five Songs. 

Op. 13 Seven Songs. 

Op. 14 Five Bohemian Songs. 

Op. 15 Five Songs. 

Op. 22 Six Characteristic Songs. 

Op. 24 Six Lyrical Songs. 

Op. 29 Six Modern Songs. 

Op. 30 Six Romantic Songs. 

Op. 34 Six Landscapes. 

Op. 41 (a) Marino Faliero- 

(b) Annabel Lee. 

Op. 54 Five Songs. 

Op. i Four Anthems. 

Op. 9 Six part-songs, madrigals and glees. 

Op. 1 6 Two Part-Songs. 

Op. 47 Eight part-songs and " Battle-Psalm." 

HOLBROOKE'S songs show greater contrasts than 
are to be observed in any of the other divisions of 
his work. They range from 1 the most puerile to 
the most lofty emotion. Many of them appear to 
have been produced by the composer for his daily 
bread, and to have been just mechanically jotted 
down as part of a day's routine. Verses always 



suggested melody to his mind, and he has not 
always paused to determine whether that melody 
was significant or not. It might be sufficiently so 
to attract the popular taste, which has always had 
an open-armed welcome for perfunctory art of all 
kinds, and this was often all that Holbrooke 
required. By reason of necessity, his art has fre- 
quently been compelled to degenerate into a money- 
making business. He has had to write music in 
the same manner and for the same cause that a 
tailor settles down to turn out a suit of clothes. In 
this process it is his songs that have chiefly played 
the part of scapegoat. Feeble words have been 
elected for musical treatment, and these have been 
combined with music of the conventional " ballad " 
pattern to suit the depraved tastes of the average 
vocalist of the present day. There was no neces- 
sity for him to probe in search of any depths under- 
lying many of the verses to which he wrote music. 
Like Dickens' Mrs. Harris, they were non-existent. 
Therefore he did not attempt it. The leading 
note of these verses lay in the superficiality of their 
sentiment, and Holbrooke's music mated itself to 
them in a like superficial, even if pleasant manner. 
There was a community of '* idea " between them 
even if there was no community of " soul." They 
enabled the composer to proceed with his greater 
work, and, in this fact, many of them receive their 
chief justification. 

The composer himself recognises the small 
artistic merit of many of these songs, for he has 
said " that the poets approached him rather than 


he them." In some cases, however, he has 
chosen well known lines and tried to mould 
them into a musical pattern of a popular type, 
to the serious detriment of the inner significance 
of the poet's fancy. On the other hand, in 
later days, he has been stirred to great achieve- 
ments when he has written individually for 
art's sake only. There are some poems in whose 
imaginative details and emotions he has thoroughly 
steeped himself, and where he has gauged the 
feelings that gave them birth with a sort of tele- 
pathic instinct. He has played a part after the same 
manner that a great actor may impersonate 
a character on the stage, and with a similar capacity 
for psychological penetration. 

However insignificant some of the lesser songs 
are, though, they always have refinement of thought 
and melodiousness of phrase, whilst all are vocal. 
These things come naturally to the composer in his 
settings for a solo voice. Like the piano pieces, 
the songs are all modern in feeling, and Holbrooke 
has been little attracted by the verses of the older 
poets. It is true that we have a few settings of the 
lyrics of Kingsley, Longfellow, Hood, Tennyson, 
Byron, Burns, Keats and Poe, but the large 
majority of the songs have been generated by 
poetry of quite modern and second-rate quality. 

In all his earlier songs Holbrooke has made the 
melody of the vocal air of far greater importance 
than the piano part. The latter has been framed 
to suit the capabilities of the least ambitious players, 
and rarely rises above the nature of mere accom- 


paniment. It lends the vocal melody an harmonic 
basis, but rarely a contrapuntal contrast. There 
is no intimate interweaving of vocal and instru- 
mental themes to produce that unity of total effect 
that we encounter in the master songs of Schumann, 
Brahms and Wolf, for instance. In the composer's 
later songs we find a better state of things, and the 
piano is made to play a more important role in the 
general scheme instead of being a mere clothes-line 
to hang shreds of melody upon. In many cases, 
such as in some of the Landscapes and Romantic 
Songs, and in the pianoforte versions of Annabel 
Lee and Marino Faliero, the instrumental part 
lends a most illuminating aid to the atmospheric 
suggestions of the various poems. These things 
were written when the position of the composer was 
becoming more assured, and, in them, he followed 
the instincts of his own nature. They show, too, 
how greatly his strength as a song-writer was 

One point worthy of notice in Holbrooke's 
greater songs is the fact that he never indulges in 
the meaningless architectural piling up of piano 
themes that mar so much modern vocal art. His 
piano parts always suggest some definite picture 
without being redundant. They have a logical 
raison d'etre which the work of many contemporary 
composers often lacks. Holbrooke never indulges 
in fine writing for the purpose of evidencing his 
technical cleverness. He has plenty of the latter 
quality, but it is regulated by a discretion that uses 
it only in the right places. 


His songs are lyrical by nature rather than 
rhapsodical, and he generally thinks in straight 
paths of melodic continuity. In his earlier work, 
at any rate, the rhythmic pattern is of the simplest 
regularity. It travels in one direction without 
encountering any by-roads or cross-roads of 
rhythmic phrase to divert it from its onward course. 
The very openings of many of these songs indicate 
to us at once the lines that they are destined to 

All the numbers of Opus 7 belong to Holbrooke's 
student days, and, of these, Fair Phyllis is, in many 
respects, the best as being somewhat less conven- 
tional than the later ones. It also shows a con- 
cordance between vocal and verbal accents which 
the composer often disregarded in his early songs. 
His later work rarely shows this defect, and the 
musical and verbal punctuations are generally made 
to synchronise in a logical and inevitable manner. 
A Love Symphony also shows promise. 

The songs of Opus 11 follow along much the 
same lines as those of Opus 7. Summer Sweet, 
however, shows an added sense of originality. 

The second number of Opus 13, We are Violets 
Blue, is grateful, as being free from the sham senti- 
ment in which the modern "ballad" writer 
delights. The words, by Leigh Hunt, are fresh 
and fanciful, and the dainty, tripping music has 
happily caught their spirit, so that there is some- 
thing of the charm of a Macdowell " nature-sketch " 
about it. Love's Answer also shows many signs 
of strength. It has an emotional force that is 


lacking in the earlier songs mentioned something 
more vital something more tense and compelling, 
indicating what possibilities lay in the composer as 
a writer of vocal music. The best song of the 
group, however, is, undoubtedly, I Came at Morn. 
Each differing shade of the words of this number is 
faithfully reflected in the music, which is full of a 
limpid, delicate beauty, whilst the piano-part of 
softly shimmering chords is suffused with magical 

The Five Bohemian Songs (Op. 14), with 
orchestral accompaniment, were first sung by 
Andrew Black at the Norwich Festival of 1905. As 
their name implies, they deal less with sentiment 
than with action, and their spirit is much more 
exhilarating than the erotic vapourings of some of 
the earlier songs. They possess far more originality 
too, and are, at the same time, direct and bold in 
rhythm and free from technical complexities. The 
first number, Unto this Foe, a drinking song, in 
which the warrior pledges his foe that he may meet 
him often in battle, is bold and vigorous. Liberty, 
on the other hand, is rather tedious. Ere your 
Beauty is the most ambitious number of the set, a 
love song of unhackneyed nature, containing much 
beauty of expression, but just lacking a breath of 
tenderness that is necessary to vitalise it. The 
Story of a Drum tells the tragic little history of a 
drummer in music that is full of stirring movement, 
and of happy, little, illustrative touches, whilst the 
last number, A Free Lance, is the song of a care- 
less debonair fellow who takes a particularly 


optimistic view of life, and the music, though con- 
ventional and of no great strength, catches its spirit 

Though these songs, in no way, rank with Hol- 
brooke's best work in this branch of his art, their 
character is vastly superior to that of the pumped- 
up sentiment of many of the earlier songs. They 
may not have the foundations upon which great art 
is based, but, at least, they strike one as being true 
to certain phases of life, and as being better medi- 
tated by the composer than much of the work that 
preceded them. 

Most of the songs of Opus 15 are much less 
veracious in their expression, though the setting 
of Longfellow's translation of Heine's exquisite 
lyric, The Sea Hath Its Pearls, is quite good. 

In A Winter Night, too, we have a fine, vigorous 
song for baritone or bass. Holbrooke has always 
been successful in inventing themes of an energetic, 
boisterous nature, and here we have one of great 

The Six Characteristic Songs of Opus 22 follow 
on somewhat similar lines to the Bohemian Songs, 
but are not quite so spontaneous. 

Of the six songs of Opus 24, Tho* all the Stars 
is decidedly the best. A vein of romantic feeling 
pervades it, and the harmonic plan is delicate and 
full of sensibility. Moreover, it has a touch of 
tenderness that the songs of Holbrooke often lack. 

The Six Modern Songs of Opus 29 are, however, 
on a much higher plane, and aim at a more 
dramatic mode of expression. 


Particularly fine is The Requital, which takes 
high rank among Holbrooke's songs. It is a little 
gem of exquisite fancy and of real musicianly 
feeling. One or two of these poems of Herbert 
Trench, however, by no means suggest music, and 
would have been better left untouched. 

The Romantic Songs of Opus 30, taken collec- 
tively, are the best set of songs that have come under 
notice up to this point. The words have been 
selected with better judgment, and there has been 
an honest endeavour to express them thoughtfully 
and veraciously in the music. The cause of art 
has been the guiding impulse in writing them, and 
not the regard for public taste. The third, Come 
Not When I am Dead, is the most dramatic number 
of the collection, and the most beautiful, too. It 
is one of those big songs that belong only to the 
highest things of art, in which no touch of exaggera- 
tion finds a trace. The full chords in the upper 
part of the piano accompaniment are like moans of 
sorrow, and these, combined with the solemn dotted 
figure in the bass, build up an effect that is intensely 
moving. The change of mood at the lines : 

" There let the wind sleep and the plover cry ; 
But thou go by " 

is magnificently caught by the music, and comes 
with a fine sense of climax. It is a terrible song 
in its hopeless despair, and it is also one of the most 
poignant bits of intense emotionalism that vocal art 
can show. A Farewell ranks second in merit only 


to Come Not When I Am Dead. It is a setting of 
Tennyson's well-known lines, " Flow down cold 
rivulet to the sea," and both the melody and the 
accompaniment cleverly illustrate the wayward 
rippling and gurgling of the water. 

The Six Landscapes of Opus 34 also rank high 
among the composer's work. The origin of this 
title may be best given in his own words. 

" Artists always hung by the old names in 
painting until Whistler came along and introduced 
'symphonies/ 'nocturnes,' and so on. Then, as 
everyone knows, there was a fearful outcry. The 
painter's art was scandalised, and it has barely 
recovered from the shock now. For my own part, 
that sort of title to a picture enraptures me. It 
affected me so much that I wanted to know why we 
should not have ' landscapes ' in music. Having 
wanted to know that, I proceeded to do it myself. 
I published a volume of musical landscapes re- 
member this has a distinct bearing on the expression 
of modern ideas and I got in return the usual 
amount of stereotyped abuse because of the impos- 
sibility of anybody thinking that there could be 
such a thing as landscape in music. To me the 
idea was natural enough. These ' landscapes ' 
were the settings of certain poems by Miss Althea 
Gyles which she called ' sketches.' I was greatly 
taken with those poems, and the tone pictures they 
called up in my mind suggested the title of ' land- 
scapes.' When I mentioned my intention of 
setting those poems to Miss Gyles, and the title 
I had decided on, she said to me, ' You will be 


laughed at for your pains.' To that I replied, 
* That will not be a new experience for me.' Then 
I added, ' There is nothing more natural than to 
call them " landscapes," for they are pictures of the 
horizon finely shaded in words ; and the feeling they 
called up to me lent itself to musical expression.' I 
did not see why the effect of those poems could not 
be intensified by music. This is a statement which 
I know will always be challenged for the reason that 
most poets believe no musician can intensify their 

These Landscapes were written as a sort of com- 
pliment to Debussy, the composer who has done so 
much, by means of exquisite tonal colourings, to 
realise for us many varied aspects of nature's face. 
Holbrooke's music, then, shows traces of the in-, 
fluence that the impressionism of the French com- 
poser has had on his mind, though Debussy's 
harmonic system is not very prominent, and it is 
Holbrooke's own individuality that we feel most. 

The two great songs of Opus 41 Marino Faliero 
and Annabel Lee show how remarkably the 
emotional horizons of the composer had widened. 
None of the songs previous to the date of these two 
had displayed such remarkable psychological in- 
sight, pictorial power or emotional intensity. The 
composer had chiefly dabbled among rather weak 
verses, or among poetical ideas of small significance, 
and written music to fit in tant bien que mal with 
their tendencies. Now, he got hold of subjects full 
of dramatic grip that called up vivid pictures before 
his mind. He envisaged these and visualised them 



in his music, so that that music became a perfect 
counterpart of the subjects to which it was allied. 
Marino Faliero, for baritone or bass voice and 
orchestra, was first performed at the Bristol Musical 
Festival of 1905, the vocalist on this occasion being 
Andrew Black. The verse is taken from Byron's 
tragedy of that name, and the scena is scored for 

In this striking, dramatic work, Holbrooke has 
realised the character of the old Doge cleverly. It 
is not as a decrepit, worn-out man that he depicts 
him, but as a man full of fiery passions, such as 
Bertuccio, one of the conspirators, describes him. 

11 One who has dome great deeds and seen great 

changes ; 

No Tyrant, though bred in tyranny ; 
Valiant in wiar, and sage in council, noble 
In nature, although haughty ; quick, yet wary : 
Yet for all this, so full of certain passions, 
That if once stirred and baffled, as he has been 
Upon the tenderest points, there is no Fury 
In Grecian story like to that which wrings 
His vitals with her burning hands, till he 
Grows capable of all things for revenge.*' 

The music is vivid and vital, and rises eloquently 
to the heights of the subject to which it is allied. 
Yet, in spite of this, and of the fact of its perform- 
ance at the Bristol Festival, no publisher could be 
found who would be willing to undertake the risk 
of its publication, so that the composer was com- 
pelled to issue it himself ! 


The other number of Opus 41 Annabel Lee 
is of entirely different character. The poem is by 
Edgar Allan Poe, the poet who has had so strong 
an influence upon the work of the composer 
generally. It is romantic rather than rhetorical, 
and tells of the love of the poet for the maiden, 
Annabel, who lives in " A kingdom by the sea " 
a love which he describes as "a love that the 
winged seraphs of heaven coveted her and me." 
But death claims the maiden, and she is borne away 
to " a sepulcre there by the sea." Her soul, how- 
ever, is always with that of her lover, and, there- 
fore, he does not despond, for, as he says : 

" For the moon never beams without bringing me 


Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright 


Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side 
Of my darling my darling my life and my bride, 
In the sepulcre there by the sea, 
In her tomb by the sounding sea." 

The strange spirit and phraseology of this poem 
has been most wonderfully caught by the composer. 
His fine gift of being able to spread a poetic 
atmosphere through the whole fabric of his music 
has never been more fully realised than here. 
Being of absolute originality, the song is apt to 
puzzle those who hear it for the first time. It is a 
supreme achievement, however, and Holbrooke has 


projected his ideas in strange, beautiful music that 
is half weird and half solemn, but that is always 
permeated with the true spirit of romance. The 
song is written for a baritone voice with orchestra, 
and in this orchestra no flutes, trumpets, or trom- 
bones are employed, though there are parts for cor- 
anglais, bass^clarinet, harps and double bassoon. 

We have now come to the last set of Holbrooke's 
published songs those of Opus 54. The first of 
these, An Outsong, is disappointing. In Killary 
we see the reverse side, for it has much of the 
atmospheric sense about it that made Annabel Lee 
so fine a piece of work, though it is built on a less 
important scale. Its melody is of great originality, 
and the last verse attains a high degree of eloquent 
and moving pathos. The enunciation of the final 
word of the song on a note belonging to the 
harmony of the tonic seventh is decidedly effective. 
Of the other songs of the set, Where Be You Going 
has much charm and Think Not Of It catches 
the simple nature of Keats' poem with a good deal 
of success. 

Of the miscellaneous vocal works, the Anthems 
of Opus i call for no particular mention, whilst of 
the glees, madrigals, and part-songs, making up 
the various numbers of Op, 9, Gentle Spring, a trio 
for female voices, produced at the Blackpool 
Festival in 1906, is the best. Sunrise and The 
Wanderers of Opus 16, for women's voices, are 
both good. The numbers of Opus 47 are all part- 
songs, with one exception, and are generally 
interesting. There is fine musicianly work, for 


instance, in the setting of Longfellow's poem 
Footsteps of Angels for the more usual four-part 
combination, which was written for the Blackpool 
Festival of 1907. It commences in seven-four time, 
and then passes to four-four time, and afterwards 
alternates between three-four and four-four rhythm 
for the succeeding twenty bars, without, however, 
the impulse of the music being disturbed or any 
scrappiness of effect being produced. The close 
of the work comes in impressive manner. To 
Zante is also splendid, whilst Jean Richepin's Song, 
Captain Wattle and Drink the Swiszy are all dis- 
tinguished by marked originality. England's 
Battle Psalm is of a different character, being 
written for a solo voice with a chorus of ten bass 
voices. It is scored for orchestra, and is rugged 
and forcible in its cast, though it does not succeed 
in attaining any high rank among the composer's 

Altogether, Holbrooke's part-songs are a valu- 
able addition to a branch of musical art that has 
generally been regarded as typically English. 



Op. 2 (a) Twelve Pieces. 

Op. 4 Ten Pieces. 

Op. 10 Nine Pieces. 

Op. 17 (a) i 7 Seven Pieces. 

Op. 1 8 Two Piano Suites. 

Op. 42 Ten Rhapsodies Etudes. 

59 ( c ) Four Futurist Dances. 

Op. 64 Prelude and Fugue. 

GEORGE MEREDITH once styled the piano the " con- 
stitutional bourgeois " among musical instruments, 
rating it as greatly inferior to either an organ or an 
orchestra. This may certainly be the case, yet it is 
by means of the humble piano that music is most 
generally brought into the homes of the people. 
Modern composers, however, have not nearly the 
same high regard for it as had the musical Titans 
of the beginning and middle of last century. In- 
stead they prefer to embody most of their best 
thinking in orchestral works of large calibre, and 
to employ the piano only as a medium for their less 
important and less profound ideas. 

British composers, in particular, have been 
8 4 


neglectful of the piano as a musical interpreter, 
though a few> writers, such as Holbrooke, Scott, 
Ireland, Frank Bridge, Arnold Bax, Coleridge 
Taylor, Benjamin Dale, William Baines, and a few 
others, have done important works for it. We do 
not feel, however, that our modern composers 
generally have upheld the dignity of the piano as a 
means of musical expression in England to nearly 
the same extent that Scriabin did in Russia, Albeniz 
in Spain, and Debussy in France. Pianoforte com- 
position is rather a laggard in this country. 

It was only to be expected that Holbrooke, as an 
exceptionally fine pianist, should turn his attention 
to pianoforte writing. The large majority of his 
piano works belong to the rank of salon pieces. 
They are melodious, if rather eclectic by nature, 
and even the least noteworthy have points 
that prevent them from being regarded as quite 
perfunctory affairs. 

Of the many early works written by Holbrooke 
(mostly to keep the wolf from the door), the 
" Valse Caprice" on " Three Blind Mice," for 
instance, with its four variations, is decidedly enter- 
taining, and acts as a forerunner to the important 
orchestral work that was to come later; Arle- 
quinade, in its class, is excellent, and is founded 
on large melodic leaps, such as the composer often 
favoured in some of his early work, and these give 
the piece a freakish character that is particularly 
fascinating. Valse Alsacienne was written for the 
higher local examination of Trinity College of 
Music, and is especially dainty and graceful. 


The best piece of Opus 17 is Clan de lune, which 
has real melodic beauty combined with an 
atmospheric suggestiveness and a delicacy of treat- 
ment that is very appealing. Barcarolle, too, has 
a haunting air that makes it a very delectable little 

The two Suites of Op. 18 stand out conspicuously 
among the early works. The first, Kleine Suite, 
borrows something from German art, and the last 
two numbers, Zuneigung and Werzwuflung, show 
a sobriety of expression such as we have not 
encountered in the piano work up to this point. 
Scherzo humoristique and Wunderlicher Einfall, 
however, exemplify the composer's lighter side, and 
the first is singularly fascinating. The Grande 
Suite Moderne is completely Holbrookean. The 
first number, Scherzo Humoresque, is full of a 
perky, jovial joie de vivre, and, though the themes 
themselves are of no great distinction, the harmonic 
scheme redeems the melodic tenuity. The second 
piece, Valse Romanesque, on the other hand, is 
compounded of exquisitely delicate melodic beauties 
and sensitively conceived harmonies, and forms a 
complete contrast to the Scherzo. In Nocturne 
(Night by the Sea) the composer turned towards 
impressionism as a mode of expression, and with 
fair success. The last number, " L'Orgie " (Fan- 
tasie Bacchanale), still remains one of the com- 
poser's most striking pieces, pulsating with wildly 
exuberant revelry. 

Holbrooke's most important contributions to 
piano music (apart from the Concerto) are to be 


found in his Rhapsodie Etudes (Op. 42), where he 
has indulged his own artistic tastes without keeping 
his hand too rigidly on the public pulse. These 
are ten in number, and contain some of the best and 
most difficult pianistic writing that modern British 
music has to show. The first, Caprice Brilliant, 
is simple in harmonic construction, but distin- 
guished by a sportive debonair spirit that is very 
attractive; Poursuivant opens with a passionate 
subject that has something of the depth and earnest- 
ness of Brahms, finer gique well defines its title. 
La Fantastique is a favourite of the composer and 
is often played by him in public. It is one of the 
lightest and airiest of compositions imaginable, and 
of a quality that is most alluring. Very charming, 
too, is Une nuit tenebreuse, with its gossamer-like 
fancies, delicately woven into a delightful harmonic 
fabric. Nocturne la Soir, on the other hand, hardly 
attains the level reached by the other numbers of 
the group. Toccata is dedicated to Mark Ham- 
bourg, who often plays it. It is an extraordinary 
piece, founded on two notes throughout, which, 
whilst lending unity to the work, have also pro- 
duced fine contrasts of feeling. Sprightliness and 
good humour distinguish Fantoches. Valse Fan- 
tasie is brilliant, and for a virtuoso only ! The 
last number of the set, Novellette, is exquisite. It 
is founded on a heaven-born air presented in two 
different ways. Some eloquent bits of imitation 
are introduced, and the total effect is one of magical 

Holbrooke's last published work for the piano is 


a set of Four Futurist Dances (Op. 59) Leprechaun 
Dance, Demon's Dance, Troglodyte Dance and 
Trollops Dance and here the composer indulges 
in wild extravagances of harmony such as the works 
of Schonberg and Eric Satic and the later works of 
Scriabin have made us familiar with. We find a 
free employment of the duodecuple scale and of the 
whole-tone scale with derivative chords built up 
from a conglomeration of dissonant intervals. 
There are also lavish successions of seconds, 
sevenths and ninths, whilst each piece ends with a 
discord resolving by evaporation. Melody has 
gone whilst the harmonic "atmosphere" is too 
thick to see through. One would welcome any 
gleam of happy sunlight. At all events, these caco- 
phonic dances stand apart from the composer's 
other work, and were probably framed in sarcastic 
vein. As imitations of some modern tendencies 
they are undoubtedly clever tours de force, but if 
such music is ever destined to become the " music 
of the future " it is to be hoped that composers of 
our own age will not anticipate too often. 

Besides the works already mentioned, most of 
Holbrooke's leading works have been arranged 
either for pianoforte solo or pianoforte duet. 

Works for Organ. 

Although a few pieces, such as Nocturne (By the 
Sea) (Op. 1 8), Novelette (Op. 42 No. 10), "Sou- 
venir de printemps " (Op. 23 No. 6), and the Intro- 
duction (2nd Act " Dylan " drama), are all obtain- 


able arranged for the organ, there is only one 
original work for the instrument, this being a Pre- 
lude and Fugue (Op. 64), and a very great work it 

The Prelude in G minor is mainly founded upon 
the duodecuple scale, and, especially in the pedal 
part, is a movement of great difficulty. 

The four-part Fugue is also in G minor, and is 
headed Allegro (Molto moderato) e dramatico. 

The fugal subject of eight bars is borrowed from 
the opera Dylan. The work terminates with a 
Coda that leads up to a strenuous climax, followed 
by a few bars /// maestoso adagio. 



Op. 17 (b) String Quartet (No. i) in D minor 

" A Fantasie." 

Op. 20 Sextet (No. i) Four Dances. 
Op. 21 Pianoforte Quartet (No. i) in G minor. 
Op. 27 (a) Quintet (No. i) for Clarinet and 

String Quartet. 
Op. 31 Pianoforte Quartet (No. 2) in D minor 

" Byron." 
Op. 33 (a) Sextet (No. 2) for Piano and Wind 

Instruments " Soul." 
(b) Quintet (No. 3) for Wind Instruments 

" Miniature Suite " 
Op. 28 Trio (No. i) in D minor, for Piano, 

Violin and Horn. 
Op. 44 Quintet (No. 4) for Pianoforte and 

Strings * ' Diabolique. ' ' 
Op. 46 Sextet (No. 4) for Pianoforte and Strings 

" In memoriam." 
Op. 57 (a) Trio (No. 2) for Pianoforte, Oboe 

and Viola" Fairyland." 
P- 59 ( a ) String Quartet (No. 2) 

Belgfium | . . 

_ . Y Impressions. 

Russia J 

We have now reached a point where the larger 
art-forms come under discussion. From this point 



onward we begin to understand the real Holbrooke. 
It is only in a few exceptional cases that his smaller 
works reveal the striking quality of his genius. As 
it has already been shown, these were mainly 
written as a means of livelihood, and they often 
betray a very luke-warm interest in the mind that 
conceived them. Into his more ambitious chamber, 
orchestral, and operatic work, the composer pro- 
jected his loftier and more intellectual ideas. He 
knew that they could never be popular in the 
sense that light piano-music and drawing-room 
" ballads " are popular, and that they could only 
appeal to a narrower but more musical public. He 
wrote, therefore, for that public, and also to satisfy 
his own highest ideals. 

Holbrooke has a mind that is quick to assimilate 
big ideas. His restless nature makes him shun 
narrow grooves, and he is ever searching for more 
widely-comprehensive subjects, and for more ex- 
pansive modes of expression. The intellect, as 
Emerson has said, is vagabond, and that of Hol- 
brooke is of a peculiarly vagabond nature. Some- 
times he o'ertops himself and lets his luxuriant 
imagination run away with him, so that his work 
savours of inconsequence and lack of cohesion for 
the want of concentration on some more salient idea. 
In spite of this defect that attaches to much of Hol- 
brooke's more ambitious music, however, it 
possesses this great redeeming feature ; it is never 
dull. Holbrooke may be profuse in thematic 
material, but that material is nearly always of an 
interesting and worthy character; and sins against 


a too lavish display of wealth are easily forgive- 
able except by those who yearn vainly to make a 
similar etalage. 

The composer's best work has undoubtedly been 
done when he has had some poem of picturesque 
suggestiveness to excite the quick responsiveness of 
his imagination, for he has the gift of creating an 
atmosphere that belongs only to the world's great 
tone-poets, such as Beethoven, Wagner, Berlioz, 
Debussy, Scriabin, Dukasand Strauss, for instance. 
Poetry, indeed, has had a most remarkable influence 
upon Holbrooke's music, and it is for this reason 
that we find him, later in life, converging towards 
that most intimate alliance of music and poetry, the 
music-drama, with much the same feeling that 
induced Wagner to write in the same form. 

Many of Holbrooke's chamber- works have a 
" programme " of some sort, which goes to show 
the tendency of his leanings, but they none of them 
owe their impulse to objective causes to the same 
extent that his symphonic poems do. Perhaps it 
is also for this reason that the chamber-works some- 
times fail to attain the same degree of dignity that 
the orchestral works always succeed in reaching; 
for this dignity is not only the effect of orchestral 
" garb," but of thought and of feeling, too. But, 
after all, it is only a case of the greater glory 
dimming the less, and Holbrooke presents a com- 
manding figure among his British confreres as a 
writer of chamber-music. Our modern school of 
composers has shown remarkable activity in writing 
in this form. Sir Edward Elgar, Ernest Austin, 


John Ireland, Eugene Goussens, W. Y. Hurlstone, 
Cyril Scott, J. B. McEwen, R. H. Walthew, T. F. 
Dunhill, Norman O'Neill, Frank Bridge, H. 
Balfour Gardiner, and others have all written 
works of this description, but only those of Edward 
Elgar, Cyril Scott, John Ireland, and the late 
W. Y. Hurlstone come into any sort of serious 
competition with those of Holbrooke. 

The chamber-music of the present day differs 
widely from that of our forefathers. It has not the 
same regularity nor the same halts on full closes. 
Subject often merges into subject without any very 
definite indication where the one ends and the other 
begins. The relationship of keys is generally re- 
tained, however, and the recapitulation section is 
proceeded with on the old lines with more or less 
regularity. The development section, on the other 
hand, is often extended to an inordinate length, and 
there is a general inclination to make one move- 
ment merge into another without terminating it by 
a full cadence in the key of its tonic. Musical 
punctuation, indeed, is almost a thing of the past, 
and many modern scores are like legal documents 
in their lack of stops. Composers have grown more 
garrulous, and prefer to discourse in uninterrupted 
fashion. Consequently, harmony flows into har- 
mony with a painstaking evasion of full cadences in 
the endeavour to preserve sequential thought. Un- 
fortunately, in this process, the thought often 
becomes also wavering and vapourish, so that the 
composer would have been better advised if he had 
made a pause in order to concentrate his faculties, 


and had then started off in a new or connected 
channel. This was the method of the old masters, 
and under it, music was much less liable to the 
danger of floundering than that based upon the 
more modern method. The little men who write 
in this form always suffer shipwreck, and the 
greater ones find it a difficult road to complete 

String Quartet (No. i) in D minor (A Fastasie) 

Op. 176. 

The first of Holbrooke's chamber-works, accord- 
ing to the Opus list, though not chronologically, is 
the String Quartet in D minor (A Fantasie) Op. 
ijb, for two violins, viola and violoncello. This is 
divided into three connected movements, named 
after the manner of one of Beethoven's piano 
sonatas, " Departure," f< Absence " and "Return," 
and it bears comparison, too, with its great rival. 

No. i. Departure. 

This movement opens with a vigorous theme in 
three-four time, given out in unison, 







- . 





A beautiful, tranquil subject in the key of G 
major is, later, heard on the violin. 

This forms the second part of the second subject. 
It is accompanied by undulating passages from the 
other three instruments, and is an exquisite con- 
trast to the material that has preceded it. Much 
of the music of this movement is richly polyphonic. 

No. 2. Absence. 

This portion of the work commences with a plain- 
tive melody in common-time. I quote the first few 
bars in close score. 




rh P ? g 

r iiw 

^' g^a . ^ ^ ^-^ ^ 

The music proceeds in this quiet strain for four 
more bars till a sudden sforzando is reached, when 
a poignantly emotional rhythmic figure, that has 
been partly borrowed from the viola passage of the 
two preceding bars, leaps into prominence like a 



wail of anguish. After this, quieter feelings begin 
to prevail until the re-entry of the main subject a 
fourth lower than on its original appearance is heard 
a few bars further on. Once again, however, the 
sudden wail breaks the stillness, and this time 
becomes even more intense. 

No. 3. Return. 

Here, all is merriment and exuberant happiness. 
The first theme, in particular, is permeated with the 
spirit of mirth 


The fine second subject appears in the key of A 
major on the first violin, and is doubled by the 
second violin later. This is of a much broader and 
more emotional cast than the subject which it super- 

Altogether, this quartet is one of Holbrooke's 
" Fine Works." 

Sextet No. i " Four Dances" (Op. 20). 

Holbrooke's first Sextet, " The Dances," was 
written during his student days, and was first per- 
formed at a Royal Academy Students' Concert in 
1894. Since then, it has been often heard, and was 
revised by its composer in 1906. The combination 
employed is that of first violin, B flat clarinet, viola, 
violoncello, contra-basso (or double bassoon), and 
piano. It is divided into four movements, Slavonic, 
Valse (Landler), Plantation and Tarantelle respec- 
tively, of which the first opens molto allegro in D 
minor. After a short introduction, its first sub- 
ject is announced by the piano in the same key. 
A good contrast to this is provided by the melody 
of the second subject, which is in A major, and is 
played by violin, viola, and 'cello in unison. 

The movement follows out the sonata-form fairly 
regularly, and is very exhilarating in quality. 

Valse is a graceful and dainty little number in 


simple ternary form with its leading melody appor- 
tioned between violin and piano. Though it is 
tuneful and pleasing, there is nothing about it that 
calls for any particular comment. 

Plantation opens allegro expressivo with a 
reiterated figure for the piano. The first subject is 
announced by the first violins, and is of a baroque 
character. The melody of the second subject is 
the same as that of the third number of the Dream- 
land Suite. 

Tarantelle is a piece of conventional pattern, of 
which the first subject is in six-eight time. There 
are also many other melodic themes in this dance, 
which shows signs of skilful construction and is 
full of verve and dash. It forms a good finish to 
a Sextet which has much fresh charm, though its 
appeal may be somewhat ephemeral. The best 
number is undoubtedly the first, though each is 

Pianoforte Quartet No. i in G minor (Op. 21). 

This Quartet is written for pianoforte, violin, 
viola, and 'cello, and is in three movements. As 
we have seen, it was originally composed as a trio 
in 1898, and first appeared as a quartet in 1905. 
Though it has no definite programmic background, 



some lines of Mrs. Hemans define its import to a 
certain extent 

" A sounding- step was heard by night 
In a church where the mighty slept 
As a mail-clad youth till morning light 
Midst the tombs his vigil kept, 
He walked in dreams . . . etc." 

The first movement, allegro marcato ma non 
troppo opens with a bold rhythmic subject for the 
violin and 'cello in unison, pianissimo 

accompanied by simple chords in the piano-part. 

The second subject in B flat major is a waltz-like 
air, which is, first, given to the 'cello as a solo, with 
pianoforte accompaniment. 

There is an interesting Coda, in which these two 
subjects are effectively combined, and the move- 
ment closes somewhat abruptly in the key of G 

The second movement, Lament, has a beautiful 
theme, lar ghetto molto expressione, which is heard 
first on the piano alone, in C minor 




2 ^ J J 



F* i 
~ I 


Uj J. ; 

C/h 1 ', - 

-f^ ' 

\rJ ' m . * 

After a while a new theme of sc/*em>-like quality 
is introduced as a piano solo and cleverly 

The Finale commences with an introductory 
passage in the nature of a recitative, which then 
leads into a rondo containing three subjects. These 
are worked with a good deal of contrapuntal skill, 
and the character of the movement is bright and 
joyous, though it is occasionally, also, a little dif- 
fuse. It terminates with a Coda whose material is 
chiefly taken from the first subject of the Rondo. 


Quintet (No. i) for Clarinet and String Quartet 
(Op. 2 7 a). 

This work consists of only two movements a 
Cavatina and Variations. The Cavatina opens in 
quiet fashion with a short passage in the form of a 
" call " for muted strings alone. Then the clarinet 
introduces the main theme, a melody of graceful 
curves and of sunny charm in three-four time in 
which the instruments combine in simple but easy 
fashion. The feeling throughout is one of happy 
and imperturbable peace. 

The theme of the second movement proceeds 
from the first violin andante non tanto (quasi alle- 
gretto), with an accompaniment from the other 
strings. The variations, like other work by the 
composer of the same nature, are cleverly devised 
and very attractive. They consist of a Caprice, a 
Romance, a Gigue, an Elegie of particular interest, 
a Serenade, a very effective March, a Galop, a 
Lar ghetto (in which the melody of " Tom 
Bowling" is ingeniously utilised), a Hornpipe, a 
Capriccio (which serves to introduce the theme of 
"Three Blind Mice"), and a skilfully written 
Fuga. The Quintet, though unpretentious, is 
charming throughout. 

Pianoforte Quartet No. 2 (Op. 31). 

Holbrooke's Quartet " Byron " in D minor, 
for piano, violin, viola, and violoncello, largely 



owes its atmosphere to ideas formulated during the 
reading of that part of Greek history that deals with 
the Ionic revolt and the Persian wars, and more 
particularly to Byron's translation of the famous 
War Song 

" Sons of the Greeks, arise, 
The glorious hour's gone forth, 
And worthy of such ties, 
Display who* gave us birth. 
Sons of the Greeks ! let us go 
In arms against the foe, &c." 

In defence of such a subject for his inspiration, 
the composer has said that " we can have the 
1 heroic ' spirit with four souls, as with four 
hundred, sometimes with more unanimity." The 
work was written between 1896 and 1898, and was 
rewritten 1902, and is in three movements, though 
it is played without a break. There is no intro- 
duction, and we dash at once into the bellicose first 
subject allegro feroce, e vigoroso, which is given 
out by the strings and doubled, part of the way, by 
the lower piano-part 


The bridge-passage introduces new and interest- 
ingly bold material, and leads to the appearance of 
the second subject as a piano solo in F major, the 
key of the relative major of the movement. This 
has a bold, swinging march-rhythm. The develop- 
ment portion of this movement is of particular 

The second movement opens adagio sostenuto 
(quasi recitativo) in the key of A major as a musical 
definition of the lines 

" Sparta, Sparta, why in slumbers, 
Lethargic dost thou lie? 
Awake, and join thy numbers, &c." 

Here, the muted first violin gives out a plaintive 
air, accompanied by the other strings muted and by 
a tremolo from the piano. It is followed by a poco 
piu mosso whose emotional appeal is richer and 
more dignified. This gradually grows in intensity, 
and finally yields itself to complete abandonment, 
during which, passages in thirds, often syncopated, 
from a leading feature of the piano part. A 
diminuendo then sets in, and leads us into the last 
movement of the work, a molto animato, descriptive 
of the lines 

" Leonidas recalling, 

That chief of ancient song 

Who saved ye once from falling, etc." 

This is in the form of an attractive rondo, the 
long first subject of which commences as follows 



The second subject is of a quieter nature 
semplice and is given out by the 'cello, with a 
simple accompaniment of detached chord groups 
from the piano. 

The work ends in a strenuous manner with a 
pompous, dignified theme. 

Sextet No. 2." Soul " (Op. 330). 

This Sextet is for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, 
horn and bassoon, and is very distinguished in the 
quality of its themes. It carried off the Lesley 
Alexander prize in 1901, and, as we saw in Chapter 
I., was originally written as a Quintet for flute, 
clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano during the com- 
poser's student days. By adding an oboe part, 
Holbrooke converted it into a Sextet. The work is 
headed Mein sehen und verlargen, whilst the com- 
poser has also referred to it as his " Soul " Sextet, 
so that we have some clue as to its significance. 
The first movement, which is in Sonata form, opens 
in the key of F. minor allegro appassionato non 



troppo with a bar for piano alone, after which the 
bassoon enters with the first subject sotto voce. 
This is of a yearning quality and harbours con- 
siderable intensity of emotion. It begins in the 
following manner 

The bridge -passage which follows is somewhat 

The second subject is given out as a solo on the 
horn, accompanied by the piano, and comes like 
balm in Gilead. This is in the key of B flat major, 
and is of a particularly suave and melodious 

In the Adagio movement, ten bars of solo wofk 
for the piano of a sombre nature lead up to the 
appearance of the main subject on the clarinet in D 
major. An interesting episode, announced first on 
the piano and repeated on the bassoon, then 
leads by simple gradations to the second subject in 
A major, which is given out by the clarinet and 
bassoon in unison and unaccompanied. 

A little later on, a striking new theme is heard 
from the piano 



As the movement proceeds, there are many pas- 
sionate passages of lashed emotion. 

The Rondo in F major is a movement full of 
boisterous, infectious 'gaiety. The rondo theme 
itself, which is preceded by twelve bars of intro- 
ductory matter, is particularly bold and rhythmic. 

The second subject is in the key of C major, 
whilst the episodical part of the movement is of 
rather a discursive nature and the least effective 
portion of the work. 

The wind-instruments of this Sextet may be re- 
placed, thoughi rather to its disadvantage, by two 
violins, two violas, and 'cello, and, in this form, it 
has been most often performed. Its rhythmic 
material is, generally, of a very high quality, but it 
has not the polyphonic symmetry of the first String 
Quartet. There is a malaise in the movement of 
some of the parts that shows immaturity of tech- 
nique, and a good balance between the various 


instruments is not always maintained. The most 
successful portion of the work is, undoubtedly, the 
slow movement. 

Concerning the cleverness of the work, as the 
production of a mere youth, there can be no doubt. 
And it is not only clever, but it is also musicianly 
and often noble and dignified. It atones for many 
of the lesser works of the composer, and shows what 
a latent strength they covered up. 

Quintet (No. 3) (Op. 

The little Quintet, forming the second part of 
Opus 33, is hardly a quintet in the ordinary 
acceptance of that term. It is entitled A miniature 
characteristic suite, and is written for flute, oboe, 
clarinet, horn and bassoon, and is little more than 
a collection of mere sketches. It dates back to the 
year 1897, being composed when Holbrooke was 
barely nineteen. The number of sketches which 
it comprises are five (i) In the Fields, (2) A 
Joyous Moment, (3) Minuet, (4) A Lament, (5) Une 

Horn Trio in D minor (Op. 28). 

This Trio, for the unusual combination of violin, 
horn and pianoforte, is one of the brightest and 
most genial of Holbrooke's works. It is also 
uniformly melodious, and, in its middle movement, 
attains to considerable. dignity and beauty of expres- 



sion. Its sentiment has, to a large extent, been 
suggested by lines from Byron's Don Juan 

" There's music in the sighing of a reed; 
There's music in the gushing- of a rill, 
There's music in all things if men had ears ; 
Their earth is but an echo of the spheres." 

The first subject has a pleasing lilt 

The second subject is first heard upon the piano 
in F major. At the close of this, the durchfuhrung 
portion of the movement commences. Here, the 
subject above quoted is called upon to play the 
chief part, though new material is also introduced 
and the writing is concise and vigorous. 

The middle movement, adagio non troppo, in A 
major is beautiful in conception, peaceful and rest- 
ful, and with the melodic flow constantly main- 
tained throughout. It consists of two well-con- 
trasted airs, the first of which (in nine-eight time) 
proceeds from the horn and is preceded by a short 
pianoforte introduction in which the character of 
the ensuing thematic outline is defined. The 
opening phrases of this .horn melody are as 
follows : 



This is accompanied b'y chord groups upon the 
piano, in which syncopations are prominent. 

The second theme in three-four time is also first 
heard on the horn. The violin repeats this, and 
then the piano gives out a varied version of it, 
whilst the other two instruments strew about fine 
phrases during its progress. 

The last movement is a rondo, the theme of which 
is first stated by the piano molto vivace in the key 
of D major, whilst the second subject is of a march- 
like character. 

This Trio is uniformly interesting and, though 
it strives after no big effects, is artistically strong. 
It charms chiefly by reason of the placidity of its 
moods and of its cheery, optimistic sentiment, and, 
by contrasting it with the more intense work of the 
composer's pen, one is made to realise very vividly 
the many-sided nature of his genius. 

Quintet No. 4 for Piano and Strings 
" Diabolique " (Op. 44). 

This fine quintet in G minor is the only published 
chamber work of the composer that contains more 
than three movements. The little Miniature Suite 


and the " Dance " Sextet hardly enter into the com- 
parison. The G minor quintet is generally known 
as the " Diabolique," from the name given by the 
composer to its third movement. It is written for 
piano, two violins, viola and violoncello, and 
begins allegro, molto fuoco agitato with a reiterated 
pedal chord for the strings. The first subject, in 
common time, is announced by the piano at the 
second bar, and is full of portentous character. 

This theme has an almost Schumannesque 
quality about it, and lends much nobleness to the 
opening part of the movement. 

The second subject enters on the viola in the key 




of B flat minor, and is answered by the 'cello, both 
being accompanied by the piano alone. 

An allargando leads into a coda in which the first 
subject reappears in the piano-part, and is canoni- 
cally imitated by the first violin and viola in unison. 
This merges into new material, moving over a 
tonic pedal and terminating on a soft chord of the 
dominant thirteenth of E flat, the key in which the 
second movement now opens. 

It does so with a beautiful, suave melody adagio, 
molto expressione e sostenuto in six-four time that 
has the strength and eloquence of a Beethoven con- 
ception. It is first heard as a solo on the first 


There is also a second melody of much distinction 
introduced by the viola. 

The third movement is a Valse (Diabolique). 
Two introductory bars for strings alone, followed 
by seven for the piano only, in which the nature of 
the ensuing pianoforte accompaniment is defined, 
lead into a nine-bar waltz theme, with an extra- 
ordinary compass. 

The first violin starts off with this original subject 
which is given in canon and is next delivered 
by the second violin, viola, and 'cello in turn. 

The finale, which opens presto vivace in G minor, 
is in rather loose rondo form, the rondo subject first 
appearing in the piano part alone. From this 
rhythm and others a fugal subject is later on formed 


in the key of D major, the dominant key of the 

This takes the place of the repetition of the first 

There is an extraordinarily difficult coda to this 
movement, in which reminiscences of all the pre- 
vious subjects are heard, and the conclusion is 
reached in a strenuous manner with a fine sense of 
climax of the tense feeling that has pervaded the 
work through nearly the whole of its career. 

Altogether, this quintet is of very great import. 
In the nobility and beauty of much of its melodic 
material it yields place to none of the other chamber 
works. Its first and second movements, in par- 
ticular, show a magnificent strength of emotional 
expression, as far as their main themes go. It is 
in the development portions of the work that the 
composer occasionally verges from the line of con- 
sequent thought. He sees that thematic develop- 
ment is necessary, and achieves it in ingenious 
fashion. In the process, however, the drift of the 
matter that had preceded it is frequently lost, or, 


at least, the interest that it has aroused becomes 
impaired rather than enhanced, and we often have 
to wait some time before the converging threads of 
thought reunite. In this G minor quintet, too, the 
composer is apt to treat his few instruments rather 
after the manner of an orchestra. It was written 
at a time when big orchestral works were beginning 
to occupy his attention very considerably. The 
Raven and The Viking had both been produced, 
and the flattering reception of these works by the 
press had indicated to their composer the direction 
in which the most powerful bent of his genius lay. 
The poem for orchestra and pianoforte, The Song 
of Givyn ap Nudd, was already completed, and he 
was busy planning Ulalume (Poem No. 3). 

Sextet (No. 4) in F minor In Memoriam 
(Op. 46). 

This work is written for pianoforte, two violins, 
viola, violoncello and contra-basso, and is dedi- 
cated by the composer to his " friend and pro- 
fessor Frederick Westlake." It was originally 
written as a quintet, and opens poco adagio, 
expressive, in common time, with a solemn and 
dignified passage, in which the violins, viola and 
'cello play in unison and are supported on the 
second half of each bar by the piano and contra- 
basso. A little later, the first subject of the work 


is announced in octaves on the piano, and is accom- 
panied by softly undulating movements from the 


> p r* " r r 

The music, as it proceeds, becomes full of stress- 
ful emotion, and is broken by a pause giving one 
a sense of almost Nirvanic calm. The second sub- 
ject in C major follows immediately, but there 
is rather a falling off in interest at this point. With 
the Coda, however, the music pulsates towards a 
more passionate abandonment, and reaches a high 
point of intensity and beauty. 

The slow movement Elegie commences larghetto, 
con molto sentimento with a few harp-like chords 


for piano solo in the key of B flat major. It has 
only one subject, but this is of a very eloquent 

The finale is in the key of F major, and is in the 
form of a vivacious rondo. 

Taking everything into consideration, this 
Sextet, with the exception of the last movement, 
which is trivial, has much artistic importance, and 
its themes are of a high and mature quality. Some 
of them have a noble significance, and are of an 
appealing and aesthetic beauty. The chief defect 
of the work lies in its heterogeneous character. 

Trio No. 2" Fairyland" (Op. 57, No. i). 

This Trio is for viola, oboe (or oboe d'amore), 
or (clarinet in B flat), or (flute), and Pianoforte, and 
is one of the strangest of all Holbrooke's chamber 
works. It is based upon a poem of Edgar Allan 
Poe's telling of a land where 

" Huge moons there wax and wane 
Aga i n agai n aga i n , 
Every moment of the night." 

At twelve by the moon-dial, " one more filmy than 
the rest " comes down and buries everything up 
quite in " a labyrinth of "light.'* In the morning, 
this moony covering rises and soars in the skies. 
Its atomies, however, dissever into a shower and 


fall upon the wings of butterflies, who thus bring 
specimens of it to earth. 

The musk that defines this poem is weird and 
intensely sad. Thematically, the work is rather 
patchy, but, if the melodic flow is interrupted by 
many cross-currents, there is a unity of feeling 
about the music that prevents it from becoming 
-chaotic. In character, it is vague and nebulous, 
for this was a requisite quality to render it a faith- 
ful reflection of the eerie sentiment of the poem. 
Odd little rhythms flicker up, here and there, like 
will-o'-the-wisps on a dark night, and then suddenly 
disappear. The interest of the Nocturne lies in its 
''creepy " suggestiveness and in its spirit of pure 
fantasy. It might almost be the musical definition 
of a hazy vision seen in an opiate dream. Its 
themes, taken alone, have no great distinction, yet 
the tout ensemble is one of rich imaginative beauty 
to which the exquisite delicacy of the harmonization 
contributes largely. The instruments combine in 
happy fashion to give voice to some very graphic 




The music proceeds in a similar manner for a 
while with the mournful droop in the viola and oboe 
melody of the upper stave still maintained. 



A new theme, however, soon asserts itself on the 

to be followed, a little later, by another of equal 
interest from the oboe. 

The trio ends softly, slowly, and mournfully in 
the same key in which it began, and leaves a curious 
feeling of disturbing elusiveness behind it. It is 
a conception of which only modern art could have 
been capable, and it is as light as a souffle and as 
ethereal as a summer cloud. 

String Quartet No. 2 (Op. 59a). 

This work takes the form of a couple of " Impres- 
sions," the first of Belgium and the second of 
Russia. The earlier movement is a Serenade in 
which, after a few preliminary chords for the lower 
strings, the first violin sighs out a beautiful 
dolorous air. This is then taken up by the second 
violin, and afterwards repeated by the first violin 
and effectively accompanied by the other instru- 


ments. A poco piu mosso succeeds, in which a 
new and exquisite subject is given to the viola. 
And so on through the whole movement melody 
flows in a constant and uninterrupted stream. It 
is one of the most lyrically charming things to be 
found among the composer's chamber works, 
whilst, in technique, it is comparatively simple. 

The second movement, Russian Dance, is based 
on the Russian Folk tune that forms the basis of 
the last portion of the fine Orchestral Suite Les 
Hommages, described in a later chapter. The 
movement follows the model of that of the larger 
work fairly closely in its earlier part. In the 
development section and also in the closing 
passages, however, it varies from it considerably. 
It is treated fugally, and is as notable structurally 
as it is rich in exhilarating impulse. 

To speak of the chamber works collectively as 
chamber works, the String Quartet (Op. 176) per- 
haps fits in most happily with its titular designa- 
tion and leaves no feeling behind it, as occasional 
passages in some of the other chamber works do, 
that it would have been better executed in fuller 
orchestral form. Its themes are well suited 
to the instruments for which they are written, 
and it is particularly concise in thought and 
elaboration. It may not have the dignity that 
is to be found in portions of the " In Memoriam " 
Sextet of the " Soul " Sextet, or of the 
" Diabolique " Quintet, but, with its simple pathos 
and also with its geniality, one feels that its musical 
form is in perfect accord. It shows, also, a more 


logical and more consistent development of musical 
ideas than is to be found in any other of the 
chamber works, yet, in a "Competition," this 
work could not win a " Prize ! " 



"The Raven" - No. i - (Op. 25). 

"The Viking-" - No. 2 - (Op. 32). 

"Ulalume" - No. 3 - (Op. 35). 

"Byron" - No. 4 . (Op. 39). 

" Queen Mab " - No. 5 - (Op. 45). 

" The Bells " - No. 6 - (Op. 50). 

" Song of Gwyn ap Nudd " (Pianoforte Concerto) 

No. 7 - (Op. 52). 

HOLBROOKE has always had much the same feeling 
with regard to music that Dante had with regard to 
human language when he wrote in his " Paradise " 
" Oh Speech, how feeble and how faint art thou 
to give conception birth." Probably most creative 
minds have this feeling and are never quite satisfied 
with the medium whereby they endeavour to 
convey their messages to mankind. For it is a 
true saying that " Art has its boundaries, but 
imagination has none." Holbrooke, for instance, 
despite the large quantity of chamber-music that he 
has written, has never felt that this mode of expres- 
sion represents his individuality to nearly the same 
extent that his orchestral poems do. In these latter 



works, he considers himself more pictorial and 
realistic, whilst they generally possess a much 
greater spontaneity by reason of their freedom from 
conventional form. 

In fact, when we come to analyse many of the 
composer's chamber works, we are often led to the 
conclusion that he is working in too cramped sur- 
roundings. The musical ideas constantly clamour 
for less constricted methods of workmanship, and 
for a more sumptuous setting. The effect is often 
that of a drama with " big passions strutting on a 
petty stage." Still, as we have seen, those works 
enshrine many beauties even if they do lie some 
distance down the slope that leads upwards to the 
summit of achievement. Moreover, it is not every 
composer who has the strength even to conceive 
"big passions. " 

It is as an orchestral composer, however, that 
Holbrooke has won the highest laurels. He has 
a genuine architectonic mind that can build up 
wonderful effects with the large and varied orchestra 
that he so often employs. Some of the curious 
instrumental combinations that we encounter in his 
works are startling and sensational, but they nearly 
always manage to create the impression desired, 
and the contrasts of tonal colouring generally are 
full of opulent suggestion. Nor is it a mere 
sporadic ability that he displays in his instrumental 
writing ; it is an ability that . pervades all his 
orchestral work. The greater the demands upon 
his imaginative faculties, the more eagerly and suc- 
cessfully he braces himself to meet them. Strange 


dramatic situations particularly appeal to him, for 
they lend him an opportunity for harmonic and 
tonal experimentalism of which he is quick to take 
advantage. His work of late years has shown a 
wonderful vitality and strength by reason of this 
empirical method of writing. 

Like all those who venture to think independently 
with an utter insouciance as to conventional 
thought on the same subject, his work has often 
aroused bitter criticism. To the composer, how- 
ever, it is a perfectly natural method of expression 
rising -logically out of the subject that generated 
it. Among the many extravagances of much pre- 
sent-day art, it seems hard to understand how any 
one can find offence in the clear thought and 
dramatic fitness that distinguishes all the best work 
of Josef Holbrooke. As Addison wrote as long 
ago as 1711, "Music is of a relative nature, and 
that what is harmony to one ear may be dis- 
sonance to another " ; but who, in the present age, 
has any consciousness of dissonances in the works 
of Beethoven, Schumann and Wagner that once 
so rudely shocked our forbears. 

Holbrooke did not attempt the writing of a big 
orchestral work until he had assumed the logo 
virilis and had many years experience as a com- 
poser behind him. Then the influence of Liszt, as 
a composer of such programmic works as Tasso, 
Les Preludes, Mazeppa and Prometheus, began to 
stir within him. He saw in programme music an 
opportunity for creating a raison d'etre for the 
picturesque and dramatic ideas that came to him so 


readily and that, but for some definite generating 
subject, might have appeared exaggerated. As a 
consequence, he wrote The Raven as an illustration 
of E. A. Poe's poem of that name. The dramatic 
power and maturity of technique displayed in this 
work rendered the inauguration of Holbrooke as a 
serious orchestral writer very conspicuous, and this 
first " poem " of his never fails to leave a deep 
impression behind it whenever it is performed 
(which our conductors do not allow to happen too 
often !). 

The Raven and the two ensuing orchestral 
poems, The Viking and Ulalume, were all purely 
orchestral works in which the thematic matter has 
been suggested by certain salient features of the 
poems. In the three succeeding works belonging 
to the same category, the composer thought fit to 
employ voices in his scheme of construction. 

The merits and demerits of programme music 
have always formed rather a vexed question among 
critics. Lamb gave us an extreme and crabbed 
view in his essay, " A Chapter on Ears " : " Above 
all, those insufferable concertos, and pieces of 
music, as they are called, do plague and embitter 
my apprehension. Words are something; but to 
be exposed to an endless battery of mere sounds ; 
to be long a-dying ; to lie stretched upon a rack of 
roses ; to keep up languor by unintermitted effort ; 
to pile honey upon sugar, and sugar upon honey 
to an interminable tedious sweetness, to fill up 
sound with feeling, and strain ideas to keep pace 
with it ; to gaze on empty frames, and to be forced 


to make the pictures for yourself ; to read a book, 
all stops, and be obliged to supply the verbal 
matter ; to invest extempore tragedies to answer to 
the vague gestures of an inexplicable rambling 
mime these are faint shadows of what I have 
undergone from a series of the ablest-executed 
pieces of this empty instrumental music." 

However pleasant one feels Lamb's general views 
on life and matters to be, one cannot accept his ideas 
on music with any very reverent attention. He 
does, however, touch upon one weakness of pro- 
gramme music, namely, the loss of interest that we 
suffer if we have no clue to the composer's meaning, 
of which I shall speak later. 

Unlike Liszt, Holbrooke calls his works " orches- 
tral poems" and not "symphonic poems," and 
thereby suggests for them a freedom from all 
classical form. This freedom, however, renders 
them rather more reliant upon the derivative poem 
than is the symphonic form, for, in the former case, 
the leading events of the subject are reflected in the 
music with much the same regularity as the leading 
events of a drama thrown on a cinematograph 
screen, whilst, in the latter case, only some very 
general aspects of the subject are defined. 

We must judge Holbrooke's orchestral poems, 
then, in the manner in which he would have us 
judge them, namely, with a pre-supposed complete 
knowledge of the poems upon which they are based. 
As a result, they rise before us as triumphant works 
of art, precursors of the great operas in which his 
dramatic gifts were to find later a more expansive 



and natural outlet. In none of the poems is there 
any hint of pedantry. The composer expresses 
himself with a romantic freedom, and with an amaz- 
ing wealth of suggestive detail such as are only 
possible to men of high-gifted genius. His music 
rises level with his poetic subject, and reflects its 
changing moods and fancies with the same fidelity 
that a still pool mirrors the over-hanging trees 
along its water's rim and the sky arch that spans it. 

There is one poet, however, in particular, with 
which the name of Holbrooke must always be 
associated, and that is the American poet, Edgar 
Allan Poe. We feel that, in some sub-conscious 
manner, these two creative minds of different ages 
meet on the same spiritual plane in a manner that 
is both inevitable and wonderful. The work of the 
one artist seems to complete that of the other so as 
to form a subtle link between literature and music. 
Other conjoined names, such as those of Schumann 
and Heine, Hugo Wolf and Morike, Debussy and 
Maeterlink, also rise to mind as typical examples 
of other supreme alliances between the sister arts. 

To some critics, the poetry of Poe appears little 
more than the morbid exhalation of a contorted 
brain. They entirely overlook the fertile imagina- 
tion that underlies it and the wonderful phraseology 
that falls so musically upon the ear. Few poets 
indeed have had a greater gift of creating atmos- 
phere or a more subtle sense of word values. The 
situations that Poe creates are often terrible and 
at times ghastly, but, behind them all, it is hard not 
to feel the warmth of the Promethean fires. At the 


root of all his poetry there is a sincerity and depth 
of feeling that cannot be ignored. The pictures 
that he evokes are so vivid that we are arrested by 
their glare and held spellbound by their weird 
fascination. Only a poet of exceptional qualities 
possesses this power of subjugating our human 

It was this strange poetic spirit that Holbrooke 
was destined to reflect so faithfully, and, by choos- 
ing a subject from Poe as a basis for his first big 
orchestral work, he set the seal upon his genius as a 
descriptive and dramatic composer. 

The Raven (No. i)0p. 25. 

This work was first performed at the Crystal 
Palace Saturday afternoon concerts on March 3rd, 
1900, under the baton of Sir August Manns. The 
gruesome story that it tells is a familiar one. The 
weary student is pondering over his books at the 
midnight hour of a day in bleak December, trying 
to find a surcease of his sorrow for his lost Lenore, 
when there comes a rapping at the door of his 
chamber. Fantastic terrors beset him as he opens 
the door to encounter nothing but the darkness. 
Fearfully he whispers the name "Lenore," which 
a murmuring echo repeats. The student then 
returns to his chamber, but again the tapping 
sounds louder than before. This time he goes to 
the window lattice and flings open the shutter, and 
a Raven flutters in and perches on a bust of Pallas 


above his chamber door. The Student asks the 
solemn bird what his " lordly name is on the 
Night's Plutonian shore," to which the Raven 
makes the enigmatic response " Nevermore." 
When the Student expresses an expectation that the 
bird will leave him on the morrow, the Raven again 
croaks out the same reply. Man and Bird then 
face each other in grim scrutiny, during which the 
former speculates aloud upon the meaning of the 
latter's presence, and the Raven continues to ejacu- 
late his monotonous reply. Finally, the Student 
asks whether his soul " within the distant Aidenn 
it shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels 
name Lenore." Again comes the answer " Never- 
more ! " and, in anger, the Student bids his ghastly 
visitant depart, but is again left impotent before the 
reiterated fatalistic utterance of the Raven, and 
there we leave them, man and bird, in forced and 
grisly companionship. 

The orchestra employed in this poem is a large 
one i piccolo, 3 flutes, 3 oboes, i cor-anglais, 2 
clarinets in A, i bass clarinet in A, 3 bassoons, i 
double bassoon, 4 (or 8) horns in F, 4 trumpets in 
F, 3 trombones, bass tuba, 3 tympani, gong, 
cymbals, harps and strings and the work is one of 
rich poetic imagination and of wonderful tonal 
colouring. The composer has painted his picture 
with no hesitating touch, and its various details are 
limned in with a genius that sheds a rare light 
on the romantic possibilities contained in Poe's 

The opening bars, largo molto sostenuto at once 


suggest the uncanny nature of the work, and are 

" Once upon a midnight dreary 
As I pondered weak and weary." 

Here a sinister theme surges up in the orchestra 
from the lower strings 

p Afofozps 

It is followed by a gloomy subject, also from the 
lower strings, suggestive of the tapping of the raven 
at the chamber door, and for a time these two 
themes in alternation on different degrees of the 
scale dominate the situation until we reach a musical 
passage poco animate descriptive of the lines com- 

" And the rustling of each purple curtain 
thrilled me " 


where vagrant movements in thirds from the wood 
wind allied to independent subjects from the brass 
create an eerie and terror-haunted feeling". Again 
we hear the insistent knocking, followed by the 
fateful theme of p. 131 below an agitated outburst 
from the full orchestra. The music continues to 
hover around these suggestions in a very graphic 
manner for some time, one passage of consecutive 
chords of the seventh with the minor third and 
diminished fifth from the wood wind being particu- 
larly daring and weird in effect. The line 

" Presently my soul grew stronger " 

has suggested a new melody, which, however, 
appears rather colourless beside the rest of the 
thematic material of the work. Then the sound of 
tapping again asserts itself in a new figure from the 
horns. The music that depicts the opening of the 
door by the student to discover nothing but the 
darkness is good, whilst his whispered word 
" Lenore ! " is represented by the hushed tones of 
the first violins and 'cellos following the inflections 
of the speaking voice. Again comes the tapping, 
growing louder and louder, till it attains a wild out- 
burst of fury leading into a ponderous, self-asser- 
tive subject descriptive of the lines 

" Open here I flung the shutter 
Then with many a flirt and flutter, 
In there stepped a stately Raven 
Of the saintly days of yore." 

to the delivery of which the whole orchestra con- 
tributes with eloquent effect. This movement is 


maintained for some time, and then towards the 
close grows quieter. " Tell me what thy lordly 
name is ! " the student demands, and the phraseo- 
logy of the music, proceeding from the horns and 
trumpets, accords with the phraseology of the 
words, as it also does in the case of the reply, 
4 * Nevermore ! ' ' heard twice on the horns and once 
on the oboes. The full orchestra then proceeds to 
reach a pitch of riotous impetuosity in agreement 
with the student's frenzied questions 

" ' Prophet! ' said I, ' Thing of evil' " 

wood-wind and upper strings rushing along in a 
mad career of semi-quavers with a chordal support 
from the other instruments. Two more " Never- 
mores ! " death blows to all the student's hopes, 
again wail out mournfully from the horns, to be 
followed shortly afterwards by the self-assertive 
" Raven " theme to typify his subjection to the 
bird's baleful companionship. The lines 

"Leave my loneliness unbroken! 
Take thy beak from out my heart " 

have suggested music of a limpid, lucid beauty, 
whose soul-stirring character shows how greatly the 
spirit of the man has been broken 



On its first appearance, this theme is orchestrated 
in the lightest of colours. It is then repeated with 
some effective arabesques from the wood-wind, and 
then, with a few slight changes, proceeds to 


dominate the situation and to become more and 
more passionate in character. 

The last picture we have of the obsessed student 
is one of melancholy resignation to fate 

" And my soul from out that shadow 
That lies floating on the floor 
Shall be lifted nevermore ! " 

where a rising and falling melody from the lower 
strings, below quiet chords for brass, lifts up a 
plaintive voice. All is deepest gloom as the 
clarinets sob out two final '* Nevermores," followed 
by a beat of the drum. 

' The Viking "-(No. 2) Op. 32 

This work made its first appearance at New 
Brighton in 1902. It owes its inspiration to Long- 
fellow's poem " The Skeleton in Armour," and 
originally passed under that name. The story that 
the American poet has to tell centres around the 
life adventures of a certain ghostly apparition of 
an armoured skeleton, who, when besought to 
speak, thus narrates his history : 

He was a Viking from the wild Baltic strand who 
joined a corsair's crew and embarked on perilous 
adventures. Then he was captured by the charms 
of a blue-eyed maid and vows of love were plighted. 
When, however, he asked her father, Hildebrand, 
for his daughter's hand, his suit was received with 
loud laughs of scorn ; but the Viking's love recog- 


nised no barriers and he carried the maid away to 
sea with him. Hildebrand pursued, and a mighty 
battle was fought in which Hildebrand's ship was 
sunk with all hands. The Viking sought distant 
shores where, with his beloved, he lived a life of 
perfect happiness till her death severed the blissful 
bond. Hateful to him then became the race of 
mankind, so that finally he procured for himself a 
grateful death at his spear's point. 

Holbrooke has regarded this subject less from 
its sinister than from its romantic and picturesque 
possibilities, and to this reason we owe the change 
in the poem's title. The name " The Viking " 
is much more in accordance with the spirit of the 
music than Longfellow's heading to his poem 
" The Skeleton in Armour." 

One likes The Viking for its many scenes of virile 
action and for its well contrasted and tender love 
passages. It is a work that owes its feeling to 
the " heyday in the blood" that leads youth in 
quest of new experiences and risky enterprises, and 
it has a tonic effect on the listener that is very 
salutary. It has not quite the poetical strength or 
the psychological insight of The Raven, or the 
same organic design, but it shows an advance in 
technique in many directions. The ideas are ex- 
pressed concisely, and there is a good deal of 
economy in the use of material, but the themes are 
wrought more into the form of a mosaic than into a 
material of more subtly blended colours. It is, 
however, a mosaic of very striking hues and of 
very effective pattern. 



The work is scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 
cor-anglais, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 
contra- bassoon, 8 or 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 
2 trombones, bass-trombone, bass-tuba, 3 drums, 
big drum, cymbals, gong, 2 harps and strings. 

The opening passage of this orchestral poem, 
where the horns have some insistent thematic 
material, depicts for us the appearance of the 
spectral guest and the fearful demand that he shall 
speak and explain his presence. Into the fabric 
of this slow, lugubrious music, a little motif of 
descending chromatic notes, in the tones of the 
second violin, springs to life suggestive of the 
supernatural character of the poem. This becomes 
of much significance as the work proceeds. 

The Viking commences his tale 

" I was a Viking old! " 

and the music, proceeding from wood-wind and 
brass, is stern and forceful till quieter passages 
intimate to us a softer side to the old warrior's 
character. This is further emphasised by the 
important theme which soon follows, and which has 
a rich romantic quality 


It proceeds from violins and 'cellos, with sup- 
port from the remaining strings, harps, lower wood- 
wind, brass and drums, and with reinforcement 
later from the full orchestra, the effect being one of 
wonderful beauty. The lines 

" Oft to his frozen lair 

Tracked I the grisly bear " 

are depicted by an allegro agitato, founded chiefly 
upon impetuous chords among which the little 
chromatic motif wanders suggestively. The music 
grows more and more impetuous as it proceeds, a 
chromatic movement from the lower strings, bas- 
soons and trombones particularly arresting the 
attention. The next subject of importance is the 
one generated by the lines 

" But when I older grew 
Joining a corsair's crew 
O'er the dark sea I flew" 

which represents sea movement, and is very 
buoyant and happy in effect. 

After working up to an exuberant climax, this 
movement yields place to a poco meno mosso under 
the heading 

" Once as I told in glee 
Tales of the stormy sea 
Soft eyes did gaze on me 
Burning yet tender " 


where we have a suave and gracious melody of 
tender outline from the first violins, in which pic- 
colo and flute later participate. 

A new theme of pompous character grows out of 
the lines, commencing 

" Loud sang the minstrels all 
Chanting his glory " 

which booms forth from the solo trumpet, sup- 
ported by other brass instruments and the harps. 
Then the music becomes more strenuous in 
keeping with the scornful rejection by Hildebrand 
of the request for his daughter's hand by the 
Viking, and some clever suggestions of his derisive 
laughter are heard from the wood-wind. 

The music descriptive of the sea fight is graphic, 
and proceeds from the full orchestra, being mainly 
based on chromatic rising and falling figures. 
There is a beautiful, tranquil passage, built up out 
of one of the earlier themes, that represents calm 
after a fierce hurricane, and then the exquisite 
melody of p. 137 soars up from the strings, with 
light scoring, in a metamorphosed three-four 
measure. The effect is one of magical loveliness, 
the verbal suggestion of the passage being 

" There lived we many years 
Time dried the maiden's tears ; 
She had forgot her fears." 

The same theme is used when, after the maiden's 
death, men become hateful to the Viking, and goes 


to intimate how he lives now merely on his reminis- 
cences. There is a convulsive passage from the 
full orchestra depicting the hero's self-inflicted 
death, and then the " sea " subject takes command 
of the situation as if to typify that his soul is now 
afloat on the sea of Eternity. 

' Ulalume "No. 3 (Op. 35). 

The inspiration for Holbrooke's third orchestral 
poem was again derived from Poe's work, and in 
Ulalume he produced one of his most remarkable 
compositions. It was first performed at the 
Queen's Hall Symphony Concerts under the con- 
ductorship of Henry Wood, in 1905, and aroused 
a storm of conflicting opinions as to its merits. 

Poe's beautiful poem is a gloomy one. The poet 
describes how once, through an alley Titanic, of 
cypress, he roamed with Psyche, his soul, on a 
night in lonesome October in the ghoul-haunted 
woodland of Weir. There, at the end of their path, 
a " liquescent and nebulous lustre was born." The 
poet believes that this vision has come to point to 
"the Lethean peace of the skies," but Psyche is 
distrustful and wants to fly. The Poet, however, 
pacifies his Soul, and they follow the beaming of 
the tremulous light. They are stopped, however, 
at the door of a tomb upon which the name of the 
Poet's lost " Ulalume " is inscribed. It was here 


on the same night of the previous year that he had 
journeyed with his dread burden to this "ghoul- 
haunted woodland of Weir." 

The mystic nature of this poem is wonderfully 
realised in music, which is full of strange and 
elusive effects, eloquently emphasised by the subtle 
orchestral colouring. A dim haze pervades it,* sug- 
gesting even more than it reveals, like the haze of 
a Corot picture. It is a splendid psychic drama 
in miniature, and, though it is quite easy to under- 
stand that it is not of a quality to appeal to all 
natures, yet, to those who can appreciate its 
imaginative significance, there is truly " magic in 
the web of it." 

In the orchestra the following instruments are 
brought into play : Piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, cor- 
anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 4 
horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, drums, triangle, 
cymbals, gong, harps and strings. 

The opening of this orchestral poem contains 
one of the most exquisite bits of impressionism 
to be found in the whole realm of music. It is sug- 
gestive of " forests and enchantments drear," and 
the delicacy of the harmonies and the subtlety of 
the orchestration produce an unforgettable effect 
upon a mind subject to poetical influences. The 
atmosphere of Poe's verses is seized upon magneti- 
cally, and we are at once led into an eerie land of 
strange vision where normal things are alien and 
out of place. Shimmering chords from the strings 
combine with arpeggios from the harp, and, into 
the web of sound thus generated, the wood-wind 



drops fragments of elusive melody. At the sug- 

" Here once through an alley Titanic 
Of cypress, I roamed with my soul" 

we'have a theme of supreme loveliness 


in which 'cellos, horns and clarinets have the 
melody with main support from the strings. 

Then the feeling grows more eruptive till a 
mournful little figure of three descending chromatic 
chords from the strings springs abruptly into the 


limelight, followed by some weird successions of 
fifths from the horns. We then reach one of the 
most important subjects of the work 



This is of an unconventional pattern, and full of 
a nameless charm. It proceeds from the upper 
strings with a light filling in of harmonies by the 
other instruments, impetuous arpeggios from the 
wood-wind being especially conspicuous. Chro- 
matic movements in contrary motion among the 
different parts then lead to a new subject illustra- 
tive of 

* These were days when my heart was volcanic 
As the scoriae rivers that roll." 

where a series of chords, mainly from lower 
strings and brass, is followed by downward dash- 
ing groups of demi-semi-quavers from the flutes 
and oboes. These two suggestive ideas pervade 
the music for a considerable time with picturesque 
effect, finally dropping out to allow for the re-entry 
of the portentous little chromatic motif already men- 



tioned divided between wood-wind, brass, and 
upper strings to emphasise the lines commencing 

" But Psyche uplifting- her finger 
Said * Sadly this star I mistrust ' " 

Then, to depict 

" Oh hasten! oh let us not linger 
Oh fly, let us fly for we must " 

some iridescent harmonies from the strings, allied 
to an assertive subject from horns and trum- 
pets, creates a very picturesque effect, which is 
superseded by the reappearance of the little 
chromatic motif to define the terror of Psyche 
"letting sink her wings till they trailed in the 
dust." After this, there is some working of pre- 
viously heard ideas when a new subject is heard 
on the trumpets and surrounded by much sensitive 
harmonisation. The ensuing music deals with the 
appearance before the tomb, whilst Psyche's whis- 
pered words " Ulalume ! Ulalume ! " are suggested 
by the phraseology of the horns. 

Soon, we have a return of the important subject 
of p. 143 to illustrate the lines commencing 

*' This is nothing but dreaming 

Let us on by this tremulous light " 

with different orchestral colouring. This goes 
through some effective developments and works up 
into a passage full of passionate emotion from the 
full orchestra to portray the agitated remembrance 
of the poet of his journey to the same spot the 


previous year. The remainder of the work is also 
based upon the same theme, which becomes laden 
with a feeling of the profoundest grief until some 
wailing chromatic notes lead into a long-sustained 
hushed chord. 

After Ulalume, it would appear that Holbrooke 
began to have doubts as to the thorough effective- 
ness of the purely orchestral poem as an art form. 
He recognised that, to a listener with a thorough 
knowledge of the subject on which a musical work 
was founded, that work gained an added vitality 
and interest, but he also recognised that, to the 
listener ignorant of its basic idea, it just lacked the 
necessary current to galvanise it into life. How- 
ever strong such a composition might be from an 
aesthetic point of view, it was bound to suffer in the 
esteem of a very large number of people if 
they possessed no key to its significance. In 
his next three orchestral poems, then, ne com - 
promised. By adding voices to his scheme, 
he not merely indulged his own gift of tonal 
colouring, but he made his labours more generally 
comprehensible. The long Preludes of these three 
later poems may be said to be almost complete in 
themselves, and to reflect as faithfully the subject 
matter upon which they are founded as did the 
three earlier poems. They have this advantage, 
however. By means of the Prelude, the right 
atmospheric feeling is first generated, whilst the 
vocal section acts as a sort of interpreter to it by 
taking up its themes, and, by allying them to 
words, thus demonstrating their significance. The 


Prelude plays much the same part with regard to 
the complete Poem as the Overture plays with 
regard to Opera, though, proportionally, it is 
much more important. It may be held that such a 
method of musical construction renders a work un- 
duly long, and leads to much useless repetition ; yet 
it should produce no greater feeling of tautology 
than the repetitions necessary to the sonata and 
rondo forms for instance. Good thematic material 
benefits by repetition, and is generally more often 
assured of a welcome on its second appearance than 
it is on its first. It is only when listening to re- 
petitions from works of feeble inspiration that we 
are so often tempted to say, " Methinks you do 
protest too much ! " 

" Byron" No. 4 (Op. 39). 

This work is the shortest, as it is also the least 
significant, of the orchestral poems. For once, the 
composer forsakes subjects of a picturesque quality 
and turns his attention to Keats' eulogistic sonnet 
on a brother poet. In this new milieu, Holbrooke 
is not so much at home. The work has its purple 
patches, but it also has certain suggestions of 
rhetoric that mar its complete success, and the vocal 
writing strikes one occasionally as being somewhat 
too tentative in character. 

It was first performed by the Leeds Choral Union 
on the 7th of December, 1904, and is scored for 3 
flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns (or 



8), 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, i tuba, tympani, gran 
cassa, harps and strings, whilst for performance 
with a chorus, the wood-wind may be increased at 
the discretion of the conductor. 

The first subject of the Prelude is of a dignified 
character, and proceeds from horns and 'cellos. A 
little later we have the second subject from a por- 
tion of the upper strings, combined with staccato 
passages from the upper wood-wind, and a 
rambling motion from violas and bassoons. 

Most of the orchestra is then brought into action, 
but the music that is evoked from this theme is not 
very interesting or convincing, though, technically, 
it is clever. We only begin to regain a grip of 
things with the entry of the third subject, a canta- 
bile movement of exquisite beauty and deep 



in which violins, violas and 'cellos have the melody, 
and trombones, bassoons and horns fill in the 
harmonies. If only the work were up to this level 
throughout, it would take much higher rank among 
the poems than it now occupies. This graceful 
and tender theme is again heard on the horn and 
bassoon combined, with musical ornamentation 
from the wood-wind, and then developments of it 
lead towards a restatement of the first theme in a 
more grandiose form. A metamorphosed version 
of the second theme follows, to merge later into the 
theme of p. 147, which now assumes a sportive and 
sprightly character that utterly changes its spirit 
but does not banish its charm. An optional end- 
ing to this Prelude is given for use when no voices 
are employed. 

The choral part of the work commences with the 
full chorus ejaculating the name " Byron " three 
times. Then they proceed on their course 

" Byron ! how sweetly sad thy melody " 

to the first theme of the Prelude, whilst the first 
violins add some thematic embroidery to the vocal 
air and the lower strings are mainly occupied with 
arpeggio passages. The effect is pleasing, though 
the writing for the voices lacks freedom and is 
rather stilted in character. At the setting com- 

" O'ershadowing sorrow doth not make 
thee less delightful " 


we feel a greater suppleness in the vocal outline, 
and there are some effective imitative passages, 
though, here, the orchestral subject owes its interest 
to treatment rather than to idea. There are a few- 
suggestions of the subject of p. 147 in the key of 
C at the lines 

"Still warble dying swan! still tell the tale," 

the orchestral scoring being here of very light 
texture. The work terminates with a few fortis* 
simo tonic chords, in which the upper strings are 
all silent. 

Although this poem is uneven in inspiration, and 
occasionally degenerates into inexpressive and un- 
interesting rhythms, it has many moments of win- 
some loveliness that do much to atone for those 
passages where the invention appears to be 
flagging. It is not one of those works, however, 
that spring among the first to the mind when we 
recall the composer's creative achievements. 

" Queen Mab "-No. 5 (Op. 45). 

Queen Mab was produced at the Leeds Festival 
of 1904. It is founded on certain lines borrowed 
from Romeo and Juliet, and is quite different in 
character from Holbrooke's other orchestral poems. 
It is particularly strong in fantasy, whilst the choral 


writing is much more effective than it is in Byron. 
The orchestral writing, too, is as graphic and full 
of colour as ever, the parts for wood-wind and brass 
being here of especial difficulty. The work has 
been often performed, and the reception accorded 
to it has always been a flattering one. 

The orchestra employed is one of considerable 
dimensions : Flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, 
horns, trumpets, tenor trombones, bells, xylo- 
phone, cymbals, drums, triangle and strings. 

The first section of the work owes its existence 
to the following idea 

"Romeo: I dreamt a dream to-night. 
Mercutio : And so did I. 
Romeo: Well, what was yours? 
Mercutio: That dreamers often lie." 

Here, the number of orchestral instruments is 
cut down, and the strings open with a long tremolo 
passage on the notes forming the chord of the aug- 
mented fifth. Then the wood-wind and brass 
monopolise this idea in conjunction with fresh 
material from the strings. The whole has the 
elusive quality that we associate with a dream. 
Then we reach the chief subject of the movement, 
which is mainly allotted to wood-wind with sup- 
porting harmonies from the other instruments 


This is of a most delicate and fantastic character, 
and is very beautifully harmonised. It forms the 
most delightful portion of the work, and reflects 
for us the lines 

" Romeo: In bed asleep while they do dream things 

Mercutio: O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been 

with you. 
She is the Fairies' midwife; and she 


In shape no bigger than an agate stone 
On the forefinger of an alderman, 
Drawn with a team of little atomies 
Over men's noses as they lie asleep ; 


The music then resolves itself into the following 



figure, particularly characteristic of the Holbrooke 
of this date 

This becomes of particular importance in the 
choral part of the work, and now proceeds from 
the wood-wind, which plays the leading part in this 
charming and fairy-like movement. 

The second part of the Prelude is an adagio, con 
molto expressione derived from the following 

" And in this state, she gallops night by night 
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of 

love; etc." 
The " love " motif takes this form 


This issues mainly from the strings, the upper 
wood-wind dropping out of action for a time. 
Though the feeling is pleasant and sincere, it is 
not particularly fervent, though there is some 
increase in intensity at a later passage marked poco 
allegretto. The theme, however, makes a second 
appearance, when its interest is considerably 
enhanced by an accompanying shower of semi- 
quavers from the wood-wind. Portions of it are 
also heard in combination with the fantastic theme 
of p. 151. After a few bars of animated writing, 
it again asserts itself in the full orchestra with 
majestic and imposing effect leading up gradually 
to the Allegro mar da section suggestive of the 

11 Sometimes she driveth o'er a soldier's neck, 
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats, 
Of breachles ambuscades, Spanish blades 

. tat which he starts and wakes ; 
And being thus frighted ; swears a prayer or two, 
And sleeps again, etc." 

The chief material of this is a bold theme of 
stirring vitality partly evolved from the subject of 
p. 152 (No. 2), in which triplets play a character- 
istic part, and in which the full orchestra partici- 
pates. Upon this is grafted a little two-bar motif, 
which becomes of considerable importance in the 
music that follows. These two subjects dominate 
the situation in a clever manner for a long time 
until the martial spirit is ousted by a quieter 
transitional poco lento section leading directly into 
a restatement in modified form of the theme of p. 


152 (No. 2) from the strings. This prepares the 
way for the entry of the sopranos adagio with the 
same theme set to the well-known lines, beginning 

" Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon." 

Throughout this, one feels that the music makes 
better orchestral than it does vocal idiom. One 
does not like, for instance, the termination of the 
word "envious," in one place, on a high note, 
and the writing for voices generally lacks ease. 
The composer seems much more at home, however, 
in his extended setting of the line, " None but fools 
do wear it; cast it off,'* which follows, and here we 
have a new and piquant figure in the accompani- 
ment from the strings, whilst the two subjects 
of p. 152 come in for some effective employ- 
ment. As tenors and basses enunciate the word 
" Arise ! " the full chorus prepares to re-enter with 
the line on which they started to the strains of 
the theme of p. 152 (No. 2), now given out 
maestoso in augmented form. Here it attains a 
fine dignity, and forms an eloquent climax to the 
vocal writing. A short section for full orchestra 
allegro fuoco, in which the little two-bar motif is 
prominent, then brings the work to a close. 

Throughout the whole orchestral poem one is 
made aware of its many excellencies; but one is 
also bound to admit that its chief strength lies in 
its pictorial rather than in its emotional character. 
Its contrasts are numerous, and these are generally 
happy in conception, but the thing that chiefly 
attracts is the delightful spirit of fantasy that 
pervades so much of it. 


" The 'Bells" No. 6 (Op. 50.)- 
In his next orchestral poem Holbrooke reverted 
to his favourite poet, Poe, for his subject matter, 
and produced one of his most powerful and original 
works. The poem is divided into four parts, the 
first dealing with the merry jingling of sledge bells, 
the second with the swinging of rapturous, 
euphonious wedding bells, the third with the 
shrieking of turbulent alarum bells, and the fourth 
with the sobbing of solemn death bells and of the 
paean of joy among the ghouls that dwell up in the 

The contrasts of feeling in this remarkable poem 
with its fine swaying rhythm offered Holbrooke a 
splendid opportunity for displaying his powerful 
gift of pictorial writing, and he has taken full 
advantage of it. This orchestral poem is a finely- 
poised piece of work, clear and dramatic, with a 
sharpness of outline, truth of detail and tonal sug- 
gestiveness that render it one of the greatest of 
British musical achievements. 

It was first performed at the Birmingham Musical 
Festival in 1906, but was completed as early as 
September, 1903. The orchestra employed is a 
large one strings (60), 3 flutes, i piccolo, 2 
clarinets, i bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, i contra 
bassoon, 4 horns (8 if possible), 4 trumpets, 3 trom- 
bones, i contra bass tuba, i euphonium, 3 tympani, 
i big drum, i side drum, i tenor drum, i stier horn 
in B, large cymbals, small cymbals, i large gong, 
i small gong, i xylophone, tubular bells and 4 
mushroom bells, i handbell in C, glockenspiel, 



triangle, tambourine, large jingles, small jingles, 
soprano concertina, 2 harps, 2 grand pianofortes, 
and celesta, and where the wood-wind, strings, and 
euphonium can be increased, it is the wish of the 
composer that this should be done. The chorus 
desired is one from 300 to 500 voices. 

The work opens with an instrumental Prelude 
in which most of the leading themes of the choral 
portion of the poem are introduced. Three 
sustained common chords of A minor (minus the 
third) for muted strings, most of the brass, harps, 
and some of the percussion instruments, lead into 
a theme allotted to the solo horn, to which the 
bassoons and other horns add their voices towards 
the close 



After a few bars, another important motif is heard 
on the strings, which, later on, is allied to the first 
subject. This, after fresh material, merges at 
length into a new melody of which the strings bear 
most of the burden and which re-appears in the 
choral section of the work, entitled " Wedding 




^ r 




*P l r r ^"fr 
E^ IT ^^ 


The music then proceeds towards a charming 
passage poco lento (les oiseaux) which, in the vocal 
portion of the poem, reflects the lines 

" What a liquid ditty floats 

To the turtle-dove that listens while she gloats 
On the moon " 

where a seductive melody on the strings is com- 
bined with a twittering subject from the wood-wind. 
It then yields place to a more animated figure from 
the wood-wind, which, after attaining an explosive 
energy, calms down into an eloquent passage 
descriptive of the swinging and ringing of the 
wedding bells. The concertina here makes an 
effective entrance. 

At the close of this section of the Prelude we have 
some fresh matter again suggestive of the pealing 
of bells, which then ushers in the important theme 
which is later associated with the " Alarum 

and is now introduced by the full orchestra. The 
utterance becomes more and more frenzied as sub- 
ject yields place to subject, and at length works up 
to a breathless climax of wonderful dramatic inten- 
sity in which the tonal colouring is laid on in the 
richest hues. An impressive pause follows, after 
which we have a splendid passage representative of 
the clamour of jubilant swaying bell: 





This commences /// from the full orchestra, and 
then the various instruments drop out of action one 
by one in order to effect a beautifully graduated 
diminuendo till the tone is reduced to a pppp chord 
for strings alone with which the Prelude impres- 
sively closes. 

The first section of the choral part of the work 
"Sledge Bells " is largely concerned with the 
subject of p. 156, with which the sopranos enter at 
the line " Hear the sledges with the bells," and the 
scoring is full of picturesque quality. 

A new and charming melody is introduced at the 
line " Keeping time, time, time in a sort of Runic 
rhyme," in which the major part of the wood-wind 
and string orchestra lightly participates. The per- 
cussion instruments also add their voices to create a 
very pleasing effect. At the end of this movement 
there is a short orchestral interlude allegretto (poco 
vivace), in which we get a reminder of the theme 
of p. 156 from the trumpets and a bell-like motif 
from the harp, after which the music passes into 
the second section of the work " Wedding Bells." 

Here the choral writing is for female voices only, 
and the theme of p. 157 is prominent. A little later 
we have the subject already noted in the Prelude, 
entitled " Les Oiseaux," and the effect is very 
happy and fascinating. 

Another orchestral interlude cleverly founded on 
the same bell-motif that appeared in the preceding 
interlude, separates the second and third parts. As 
this music proceeds, the harmonies become more 
discordant, suggestive of " sweet bells jangled out 


of tune and harsh," preparing us for the subject of 
the third section "Alarum Bells." Here the 
chorus deliver the theme of p. 158 in eight-part 
harmony to the lines beginning- " Hear the loud 
alarum bells, brazen bells," and the orchestral 
scoring is full of a barbaric splendour. At the 

" In the startled car of night 

How they scream out their affright ! 
Too much horrified to speak " 

the first of these is set pp ; then we have an abrupt 
and frenzied transition to // at the second, whilst 
the music droops to a hushed awe at the third. As 
the movement advances, the feeling grows more and 
more turbulent and dramatic, whilst great waves of 
sound surge up and down in the orchestra and 
create an overwhelming and terrifying effect. 
When this wild upheaval subsides, we have a new 
and tranquil melody at the lines " Now to sit or 
never by the side of the pale-faced moon," in which 
the orchestral scoring is very delicately tinted. 
Not for long, however, does this calm reign, for 
soon we are launched again on another sea of 
frenzied disturbance. A little later the re-appear- 
ance of the ubiquitous motif of p. 156 on the oboe 
heralds in an important new melody on the solo 
violin, from which the ensuing choral passage, com- 
mencing " How the danger sinks and swells," is 
built up. The music here takes on a richly poly- 
phonic character, in which the vocal writing passes 
into eight-part harmony, and is upheld by a fine 


contrapuntal movement from the orchestra into the 
fabric of which the theme of p. 156 is constantly 
and ingeniously interwoven. A transitional sec- 
tion for orchestra then leads up to the last part of 
the work " Iron Bells." 

The employment of men's voices alone during 
the early part of this (which is suggested by the 
theme of p. 158) gives a sombre colouring to the 
music, which is further emphasised by a mournful 
tolling from the bells. The effect is very impres- 
sive. When we come to the line descriptive of the 
people who dwell up in the steeple 

" They are ghouls " 

this information it uttered quietly and fearfully, 
and preceded by a pause and then followed by a 
bar's silence from all the orchestral instruments, 
save the 'cellos and contra basses, which have a 
few chromatic descending notes leading into a short 
dramatic instrumental interlude. The voices again 
take up the burden at the line " And their king it 
is who tolls," supported by some sportive material 
in the orchestra. This develops into a scene of 
antic revelry of a most powerful and dramatic 
character, which finally yields place to a subject 
that did service in the first vocal section to the same 
words, " Keeping time, time, time in a sort of 
Runic rhyme." There is a very beautiful passage 
commencing with the words " To the sobbing of 
the bells," in which the vocal writing begins in five 
parts, and the harmony gradually thickens until it 
reaches seven parts, Around this the orchestra 


weaves an eloquent musical pattern. The music 
then proceeds towards a powerful climax in which 
the full orchestra participates. It then droops to a 
quieter and more placid mood at the line " To the 
moaning and the groaning of the bells," and the 
work closes with a few bars borrowed from the 
opening bars of the Prelude melting into a major 

The choral writing of this work generally is 
greatly in advance of that of the two earlier 
orchestral poems in which voices were employed. 
We are never conscious in The Bells, as we were 
occasionally in Queen Mob and Byron, of any 
awkwardness in the vocal phraseology, but poetry 
and music move along together in perfect accord. 
Poe's verses are finely rhythmic, but it is not going 
too far to assert that their vivid dramatic qualities 
gain a fresh lustre from the glowing sincerity of 
Holbrooke's music. 

The Song of Gwyn ap Nudd (Pianoforte Concerto) 
No. 7 (Op. 52). 

Some of the composer's finest work owes its 
genesis to old Welsh legends rendered into verse by 
T. E. Ellis (Lord Howard de Walden). These 
include the powerful trilogy of operas, to be dis- 
cussed later in the volume, and a pianoforte con- 
certo or Poem for piano and orchestra, The Song of 
Givyn ap Nudd. 

The legends concerning Gwyn ap Nudd, the 


King of Faerie, are many, and we become 
acquainted with some of these in the poems of 
Davydd ap Gwylim, the Welsh poet for whom 
George Borrow had so great an admiration. The 
legend upon which T. E. Ellis has based his verses 
is the one which represents Gwyn ap Nudd as the 
lover of Cordelia, the daughter of Ludd or Lear, 
for whom he fights with Gwythyr mab. Greidawl on 
every first of May till the day of doom. 

To many composers such a subject would have 
suggested music of a weird, nebulous quality that 
brought the supernatural nature of the story into 
chief prominence. Not so Holbrooke, however ! 
He is chiefly concerned with the psychology of the 
protagonists of the drama the martial ardour of 
Gwyn and the womanly gracefulness and beauty of 
Cordelia. Of course, we have suggestions of the 
more fantastic side of the legend, but these are sub- 
sidiary to the main conception. 

Regarded as a work in concerto form, the com- 
position is remarkably free. For this, the story 
on which it is founded is mainly responsible. The 
composer, in this concerto, exercises his supreme 
power of pictorial suggestion to its fullest extent, 
and naturally strictness of form has to be sacrified 
to a large degree. The music is some of the most 
entrancing and romantic that Holbrooke has ever 
conceived, and in total contrast to The Bells. It 
is broad in conception and overflowing with noble 
and uplifting themes. When we listen to it, we 
feel that here is music that is no mere gleaming of 
a pale luminosity, but music glowing with white- 


hot intensity, pregnant with idea and magnificent 
in technique. 

It is scored for piccolos, flutes, oboes, clarinets, 
bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, 
drums, cymbals and strings, and is divided into 
three movements which merge into each other, 
though optional endings to each movement are also 

The first movement opens maestoso allegro in 
common time, with a vigorous introductory passage 
for strings, wood-wind and horns, descriptive of the 

** Open the gate of mirrored horn! 
Summon the hosts of pool and lawn, 
Sprites of the mist and marshland born, 
Flower-bred fays and the phantom spawn 
Of sward and leaf and shade ! ' ' 

This is followed by a cascade of octaves for the. 
solo instrument that leads directly into the state- 
ment by the full orchestra of the first subject in F 
minor, a bold, martial theme of much character and 
grit. This is then repeated by the piano with a 
tremolo support from the strings. After a few bars 
rest, the solo instrument starts off with what may 
be considered as a prolonged bridge-passage with a 
well-marked rhythmic theme. During this transi- 
tional movement, we have some new and important 
musical material. 

The second subject, a poco animato in B flat, is 
of a cantabile character, and has much grace and 
beauty, the music rising and falling in expressive 



outlines and attaining to considerable intensity of 
mood. The orchestra then repeats it against a 
background of upward and downward leaping 
groups of semi-quavers from the piano. 

The development portion of the movement is well 
achieved, and there is often a masterly interlacing 
of themes. In the recapitulation we have the re- 
delivery of the first subject by the solo instrument. 
The bridge -passage follows an orthodox course, 
though with some changes in orchestral colouring 
and contrapuntal matter, and the second subject re- 
appears in the piano part in the tonic key of the 
movement, according to precedent. There is a 
long Coda introducing new themes, by means of 
which the movement is brought to a strenuous and 
impressive close. 

The second movement, an adagio con sostenuto 
in three-four time, in the key of E flat, depicts for 
us the beauty and charm of Cordelia. It opens 
with a few bars for a portion of the wood-wind and 
horns. Immediately afterwards the piano delivers 
a beautiful cantabile theme, almost Schumannesque 
in quality, whose tender gracefulness haunts the 
memory long afterwards 


I6 7 

The orchestra is then employed with a few ideas 
drawn from this theme, after which the piano con- 
tinues its stream of melody, lightly accompanied by 
little ejaculations from the main body of the 
orchestra. In illustration of the lines 

" Clotted of shadows he comes to my best 

A fiery eyed phantom. The dream lists are dressed 
And peopled of spectres." 

the piano introduces a new subject poco allegretto 
e schersando in B flat, a fascinating movement full 
of elfish fantasy 


The orchestral writing here is of a light and 
gossamer quality. 

The last section, an allegro, molto fuoco, in two- 
four time, in the key of F minor, shows wonderful 
orchestral technique and colouring. It opens with 
a riotous introduction, in which the full orchestra is 
employed, descriptive of the lines 

*' Blade that meets blade with never a sound 

Horses that shall leave not a print on the ground." 

This merges into the presentation of a bold and 
martial first subject by the piano // fuoco. This 
blood-stirring, vigorous theme obtains still further 
emphasis on its immediate repetition by the 
strings, supported by the full orchestra. 

The second subject is a Poco Larghetto in the 
key of C. This is allotted to the solo instrument, 
and passes through many different keys. Part of 
it is then repeated by the orchestra, and surrounded 
with lace-like arabesques and a precipitous octave 
descent and ascent from the piano. The develop- 
ment portion of the movement is very short, and is 
evolved out of certain bars of the second subject. 
The recapitulation section shows some modification 
of the thematic matter and varied orchestral treat- 
ment. There is a long Coda, at the close of which 
the finely-conceived melody that forms the second 
subject of the opening movement is reintroduced 
with puissant effect by upper strings and flutes, and 
supported by the rest of the orchestra and by mas- 
sive descending and ascending arpeggio chords 
from the piano. 


The volume of tone thus built up gives eloquent 
and grandiose expression to the lines 

" She was the most splendid maiden in the three 

Of the mighty and the three isles adjacent " 

and forms a magnificent peroration to a really re- 
markable work. Its difficulties are many, and its 
thematic fabric is of very great complication. 
Technical proficiency, however, can exist apart 
from that great rarity creative genius. Here. 
however, we have both in combination, and, 
whereas the cleverness of construction displayed in 
this work is apparent on a mere glance at the score, 
the thing that chiefly impresses one, in listening to 
it, is its super-abundant vitality, its spaciousness, 
its imaginative poetical spirit, its glowing pic- 
turesqueness, and the general unity of design in 
which it has been conceived. 

These orchestral poems of Holbrooke's are 
among the highest achievements of English 
musical history ; yet how rarely they are performed 
in comparison with the works of the foreigner ! 
The British public still retains its sober, enslaving 
respect for many of the musical platitudes of the 
past, accounting such an ingrained feeling the hall 
mark sign of its impeccable taste, or else it rushes 
to the other extreme and flings itself in unquestion- 
ing homage before the latest fashionable apostles 
of extreme modernism. Fashion ! How much 


that word has to account for ! Watch the faces of 
its many votaries, and read the silent but willing 
martyrdom of the large majority. Watch, for 
instance, the faces of some of the people at our 
musical festivals ! With Lady Macbeth, we could 
say, " Your face is as a book where men may read 
strange matters." Utter boredom or a mere arti- 
ficial interest, in many cases, is all we read. They 
are merely there to be au fait with all the objects of 
enthusiasm (but more often pseudo-enthusiasm) of 
the modern world. To confess that one has not 
heard the performance of a work of which all one's 
acquaintance are talking and discussing is to be 
" outside the pale.*' For this reason they wear 
the hair shirt and sacrifice their natural inclina- 
tions. Naturally, concert promoters pander to 
these British "faddisms," for the box office 
must nearly always be their main concern, but, in 
the process, genuine art suffers grievously. Still, 
it is well not to be pessimistic in a world that has 
recently been witnessing such vast upheavals. 
Time often works wonders undreamed of in our 
philosophy ! May it eventually work one in the 
musical perceptions of this England of ours ! 



Op. 48, Choral Dramatic Symphony. 
Op. 51, Apollo and the Seaman. 

VERY similar in their character to the poems 
described in the preceding chapter are the two 
works that the composer has chosen to nominate 
as " symphonies." Of these, the Choral Dramatic 
Symphony (Homage to E. A. Poe) is in four move- 
ments, and each separate movement is founded on 
a separate poem of Edgar Allan Poe's. The re- 
spective titles of these different poems are as 
follows : 

(1) The Haunted Palace, 

(2) Hymn, 

(3) The City in the Sea, 

(4) The Valley Nis, 



and each of them has been chorally set in its com- 
pleteness. Only the first and fourth movements of 
this symphony have orchestral preludes of any con- 
siderable extent preceding the vocal sections. The 
music derives its form from the verbal exigences 
of the respective poems, and consequently, in con- 
sidering the work, one has to cast aside all ideas 
of classical symphonic structure, and to regard it 
as a group of orchestral poems whose aggregation 
brings it loosely into line with other works simi- 
larly designated merely by reason of the conven- 
tional four movement character that it possesses. 
Apollo and the Seaman, however, follows the 
symphonic form much more consistently. 

The music of the Dramatic Choral Symphony 
shows much of that vivid, picturesque grasp of sub- 
ject that the composer's other settings of Poe's 
poetry display. It was commenced in 1902 and 
completed in 1908, and had its first public perform- 
ance by the Leeds Choral Union on the twelfth of 
November, 1908, conducted by the composer. It is 
remarkably rich in bold, rhythmic melody, though 
the quality of this is not quite so distinguished as 
it is in some of the composer's other orchestral 
works. Its tonality is strongly and clearly defined, 
and there is none of that vague meandering about 
among indefinite keys so reminiscent of a spirit 
seeking vainly for rest, to which so many modern 
composers are addicted. It bespeaks itself, indeed, 
as the work of a man who revels in travelling along 
strange, imaginative courses, but not of one whose 
methods are in any wise experimental or unregu- 


lated. The music, too, in spite of its occasional 
uncanny quality, is both healthy and sane. Its 
very boldness saves it from the reproach of being 
designated as morbid in fancy. Fantastic it may 
be, but fantasy is a legitimate generator of art. 
The orchestral painting excellently realises for us 
the subjects of the poems, and the many beauties 
of tonal effect that the composer achieves in this 
work show how quick his brain is to conceive the 
aesthetic effect of certain instrumental combina- 
tions. It is only on very rare occasions, in his 
music, that he lapses into mere noise or is guilty 
of writing ugly passages, though, as we have seen, 
he has not always been clear of that offence. How 
much more often, however, does Richard Strauss, 
the composer to whom Holbrooke has so often been 
compared, deserve censure in this respect ! 

The choral writing of this work is not so good as 
the instrumental, and it has not the strength 
that was observable in the vocal portion of The 

The poem, The Haunted Palace, upon which the 
first movement of this Dramatic Choral Symphony 
is based, is taken from a prose work of Poe's, 
entitled The House of Usher. In this, the poet 
describes how he has received a letter from a friend 
of his, Roderick Usher by name, in which he 
speaks of a mental disorder which is depressing 
him, and begs the person whom he addresses to 
come on a visit to him with the view of alleviating 
his malady. Accordingly, the poet sets out towards 


his friend's dwelling-place, but, as he reaches it, 
the gloominess of the place fills him with super- 
stitious fears. A peculiar atmosphere appears to 
pervade it that he cannot account for " an atmos- 
phere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, 
but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, 
and the grey wall, and the silent tarn a pestilent 
and mystic vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly dis- 
cernible and leaden-hued." Summoning up 
courage, however, he enters the house and meets 
his friend, whom 1 he finds nervous and excitable, 
with alternations of vivaciousness and of sullenness. 
He discovers that one of Usher's diversions is to 
accompany certain rhymed verbal improvisations 
of his own upon the guitar, and, among these, is 
the poem of The Haunted Palace, in which, as the 
poet says, he first perceived "a full consciousness 
on the part of Usher of the tottering of his lofty 
reason upon her throne." The poem is short, and 
I append it in full : 

In the greenest of our valleys 
By good angels tenanted 

Once a fair and stately palace 
Radiant palace reared its head. 

In the monarch Thought's dominion- 
It stood there ! 

Never seraph spread a pinion 
Over fabric half so fair. 



Banners, yellow, glorious, golden, 

On its roof did float and flow; 
(This all this was in the olden 

Time long ago) ; 
And every gentle air that dallied, 

In that sweet day, 
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid, 

A winged odour went away. 


Wanderers in that happy valley, 

Through two luminous windows, saw 
Spirits moving musically 

To a lute's well tuned law, 
Round about a throne where, sitting 

(Porphyrogene !) 
In state his glory well befitting, 

The ruler of the realm was seen. 


And all with pearl and ruby glowing 

Was the fair palace door, 
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing, 

And sparkling evermore, 
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty 

Was but to sing, 
In voices of surpassing beauty, 

The wit and wisdom of their king. 

But evil things, in robes of sorrow, 

Assailed the monarch's high estate; 
(Ah, let us mourn ! for never morrow 
Shall dawn upon him desolate!) 



And round about his home the glory 
That blushed and bloomed 

Is but a dim-remembered story 
Of the old time entombed. 


And travellers now, within that valley, 

Through the red-litten windows see 
Vast forms that move fantastically 

To a discordant melody ; 
While, like a rapid ghastly river, 

Through the pale door 
A hideous throng rush out for ever, 

And laugh but smile no more. 

It is the number of pictorial allusions in this ter- 
rible poem less than the psychological state of the 
man that Holbrooke has defined in the first move- 
ment of his symphony. Perhaps it is well that he 
has dealt with the allegorical side of his subject 
rather than with its inner side, or the result might 
have been too acutely painful. The work is scored 
for an orchestra of two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, 
cor-anglais, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bas- 
soons, contra-bassoon, four horns, three trumpets, 
three trombones, contra-bass tuba, three tympani, 
side-drum, bass-drum, triangle, tambourine, cym- 
bals, gongs (small) harps, and strings. The 
chorus should be from two hundred to five hundred 
in number, 



The first movement opens with an important 
orchestral prelude. 

After a few bars of introductory matter, we have 
the first theme from the oboes, accompanied by 
horns, trombones, and bass tuba 





this being followed by a weirdly expressive sub- 
ject, which, after working up to a wild climax full 
of eerie suggestions, relaxes its tension to yield 
place to a new subject, announced presto 
?imo $ molto leggier Q r 

i 7 8 


When, later, the voices enter, the violas and 'cellos 
have a swaying rhythmic movement by way of 

The purely orchestral prelude is by far the best 
portion of the movement, and here we find the com- 
poser in one of his most delightful and picturesque 
moods. This is arranged for separate performance, 
and, even apart from its programmic derivation, it 
has very definite and decided charm. The vocal 
writing, though interesting, has no great distinc- 

The second movement of this Symphony is very 
short, and is founded upon a simple hymn to the 
Virgin. It represents the slow movement of the 
work, and is designed for tenors and baritones only. 



The strings are all muted, and the only wood-wind 
instruments used are bassoons. The feeling is very 
peaceful, heartfelt, and beautiful. 

The City in the Sea, the poem upon which the 
third movement of this symphony is founded, is a 
weird and dismal thing telling of a city down within 
the dim West where Death has reared himself a 
throne. Around it, hideously serene and melan- 
choly waters lie 

" No rays from the holy heaven came dowrt 
On the long night-time of the town ; 
But light from out the lurid sea 
Streams up the turrets silently." 

From the proud tower of this city, Death looks 
gigantically down. 

A short instrumental prelude introduces the vocal 
portion of the movement, and it contains a theme, 
moderate misterioso, which becomes of great 
importance later 



This is given out by strings. The ensuing solo 
for bass voice is broad and vigorous in character, 
with a wave-like movement from the orchestra, 
whilst the setting of the lines 

" Not the gaily jewelled dead 

Tempt the waters from their bed ; 
For no ripples curl, alas ! 
Along that wilderness of glass 
No swellings tell that winds may be 
Upon some far off happier sea." 

which come later, and in which all the voices are 
divided, is particularly noticeable for its wild, 
weird beauty. The short orchestral interlude that 
succeeds has an important theme which, later, is 
taken up by the basses to the lines 

" But lo, a stir is in the air! 
The wave there is a movement there," 

in combination with a triplet figure from the 
orchestra. Out of this theme a very elaborate and 
cleverly-devised fugue is built up. 

This movement is vastly superior vocally to 
either of the sections that preceded it, not only in 
the cleverness of its technique, but also in the 
beauty of its thematic material and in the variety 
of its harmonic colouring. Many parts of it rank 
with the composer's most inspired work, and many 
parts of it are also of extreme difficulty for the 

The fourth and last movement of this Symphony, 



The Valley Nis, is based upon a poem that tells of 
a spot, concerning which 

" A Syriac tale there is 
Thereabout which Time hath said 
Shall not be interpreted. 
Something about Satan's dart 
Something about angel wings 
Much about a broken heart 
All about unhappy things : 
But ' the Valley Nis * at best 
Means * the valley of unrest.' ' 

The vocal part of the movement is preceded by a 
prelude of considerable length which opens maes- 
toso allegro marziale, with the following melodic 
theme from the flutes, oboes, clarinets, violins and 


accompanied by the remainder of the orchestra, with 
full harmonic effects, and the music proceeds in 
boldly rhythmic fashion until a new subject of wist- 
ful character is announced by the first violins in the 
key of C major. This becomes of great importance 
later, and serves to illustrate the lines beginning 

" All about unhappy things " 

Further on, this prelude merges into the vocal 
portion of the movement. Here, at the start, only 
a semi-chorus is employed, which, according to the 
composer's instructions, should number about 159 
voices only. This chorus is divided into the usual 
four parts, soprano, alto, tenor and bass, and they 
enter on the lines 

" Far away far away, 
Far away as far at least 
Lies that valley as the day 
Down within the golden east " 

which are set to soft and rather dismal strains and 
harmonies that give one a curious sense of desola- 
tion and remoteness 



The orchestral accompaniment of the above 
quoted bars is given to the strings alone, though 
the trumpets and flutes enter a little later. The 
vocal writing, generally, however, is again less con- 
vincing than the orchestral, and the chief interest in 
the music that follows is to be found in a purely 
instrumental interlude. This is succeeded by a 
quartet for solo voices in E major, in which the 
musical flow is graceful and easy. The full chorus 
enter with the soloists at the lines 

" Now the unhappy shall confess 
Nothing there is motionless, etc." 

Here, the vocal writing is in eight parts, and is 
finely achieved. With the entry of the last verse 
of the poem, there is a new theme of a march-like 
nature for sopranos that gradually becomes more 
and more dramatic as it progresses. 

In spite of much splendid and vigorous music that 
this portion of the work contains, it does not fit in 
quite so happily with the basic poetical ideas as 
most of the composer's work of this class generally 
does. It is cleverly written, but it is less pictorial 
and vivid. In some places, the vocal phrases are 
stilted in their framework, whilst, in others, the 
musical feeling seems to be rather remote from the 
spirit of the words. The end, however, is finely 
conceived, and obliterates much of the sense of dis- 
appointment that some of the preceding matter had 
aroused. The third movement is undoubtedly the 
best part of the work, and the symphony, generally, 
though uneven in quality, has many splendid 


Apollo and the Seaman realises its title as a 
" symphony" much better than The Choral 
Dramatic Symphony does. At least, there is, here, 
some attempt to follow out the classic form which 
is scarcely observable in the latter work. Apollo 
and the Seaman is founded upon a poem by Her- 
bert Trench, an Irish writer, who is also responsible 
for the verses of a set of Holbrooke's songs. 
Regarding this poem, the composer has said, 
" When I read Apollo and the Seaman, I was 
greatly struck with it, and I told the author so, add- 
ing that there were certain parts of it which appealed 
to me very strongly as a musician, and I should like 
to use it as the basis of a dramatic symphony." 
The poem was of very considerable length, how- 
ever, and it was therefore impossible to treat it in 
the detailed, consecutive manner in which so many 
of the composer's previous poems had been treated. 
Holbrooke's music was compiled, therefore, with 
the object of illustrating its more salient features, 
and of giving a broad epitome of it in tone. The 
length of the choral portion of the work, when con- 
trasted with that of the purely orchestral portion, is 
proportionally very much less than in either 
The Bells or Queen Mab. The poem is divided 
into eight sections, and only the last of these is dealt 
with chorally. The earlier part of the poem is 
defined in instrumental music alone, and it is 
divided into movements that follow the conventional 
symphonic form fairly consistently. It was easier 
to do that in this case than it was in the case of the 
symphony previously analysed. In Apollo and the 


Seaman there was nothing to prevent the composer 
from utilising what portions of the poem he pleased, 
nor was he bound, either, by any hard and fast 
rules as to the order in which they were to be pre- 
sented. He could fit them at will to suit the 
symphonic shape that he had in view, whilst some 
details of his subject might even be passed over 
altogether. Still, certain lines of the poem that 
appeared to him of a particularly striking nature 
have appealed to his pictorial sense, and have been 
illustrated in his music so as to effect the fabric of 
it to a very considerable extent. In the Dramatic 
Choral Symphony, however, the freedom' was much 
less complete. There, as we have seen, the whole 
of each poem belonging to each separate movement 
was given to the chorus, so that the form of the 
work was entirely dependent upon the order of the 
poetical ideas. 

The poem of Apollo and the Seaman deals with 
the great subject of immortality, and this is treated 
in allegorical fashion and has a moral to point. Its 
first section tells how Apollo mysteriously comes to 
earth " furred like a merchant fine/' and seeks an 
inn on the sea-coast, where He sits with a Sailor, 
sharing a jug of wine. In the second section these 
two begin to converse together, and Apollo asks 
the Sailor why he appears to be so cast down. The 
reason is given in the Sailor's reply 

" I heard them calling in the streets 
That the ship I serve upon 
The great ship Immortality 
Was gone down like the Sun." 


The third section is occupied with the queries 
made to the Sailor by Apollo concerning this ship. 
The Seaman then goes on to appraise the vessel on 
which he has served. Apollo affects to have seen 
far greater marvels of a similar nature, and cites 
certain triremes and galleons of ancient Greek his- 
tory as cases to the point, but receives for reply 

" Well ask all navies such as these 
Was she not more divine 
Who, challenged by Death's muffled drums, 
Gave Death the countersign." 

Apollo then asks the Seaman the build of this 
boat of his, and this section of the poem concludes 
as follows 

Seaman: " Oh her stretch of sail so white, so white, 

By no man's hand unfurled 

Was Heaven ! 

Apollo: And the decks you kept so bright? 
Seaman: Were like the bustling world 
Apollo: And the hold and cockpit out of sight, 

Pitch dark and ill to smell, 

Full of the friends of your delight? 
Seaman: That was the pit of Hell!" 

In the fourth section, the Seaman begins to specu- 
late upon the causes that have made his vessel 
founder, and Apollo tells him 

" Her end was none, my lad, of these; 
But first if you must know, 
Mutiny of those friends of yours 
In irons down below ' ' 


He then amazes the Sailor by the further informa- 
tion that he has to impart 

" Nay, he that built your famous boat 
From the old coasts to fly 
And bear you ever out and on, 
Was I, and none but I " 

The fifth section is concerned with the tale of 
Apollo regarding the ship. In an exquisite poetical 
passage, He tells how, having heard strange 
rumours, He had approached the boat, " triple- 
tier 'd of Heaven and Earth and Hell " to find her 
sails " hung pierced and slung awry.*' From the 
forge doors in her decks had come insolent uproars 
until soon unkennelled Hell was loose and was 
swarming in escalade. 

Then the God had inspected the faces of those 
that swarmed about him, and mused, " Why need 
the dead survive?" Finally, He had summoned 
up each soul, and round its neck securely fastened 
this token, " Judge thyself." After this, to quote 
his own words 

" Then from ocean's frothy hazardous 
Dream-element I caught 
Her crew every half-foundered soul 
Wherewith her hiold was fraught; 
And I sang them back to steady earth 
After their wanderings long, 
Both quick and dead. Hangs on thy breast 
The token of my song." 


The Seaman fumbles at his breast, to find, 
indeed, that this token " Judge thyself" hangs 
there as stated, and then Apollo proceeds with the 
narration of how, after the horrible scenes that He 
had witnessed, He had smitten " the great hull to a 
ghost and the mighty masts to air." Still, He 

" At hours when you are fever-struck 
A phantom you may see 
Derelict drifting out of hail 
Lost Immortality.** 

In the sixth section, the Seaman, in anger, 
rebukes the God for giving mankind only the earth 
as a substitute for the ship that has been destroyed, 
and Apollo, in turn, chides his companion for his 
lack of faith. He proceeds to tell him that a divine 
plan pervades the whole work of creation. 

The Seaman asks, " Must we, ever-living one, 
go out when we are dead? " 

The answer is given in the succeeding seventh 
section. The God says 

" See, from the voyage whence you come now 
You come not back the same; 
Behind the door of your dull brow 
Hath sprung up doubt and blame 
Defiance of me." 

and then goes on to inform him that he is already 
on a cruise, with the Earth, however, for the ship, 
and that he will have time to find the Earth his 


friend. No longer is he floating on his old vessel 
upon a sea of time among the fallen angels with the 
bitter sense of a Paradise lost, but on a vessel whose 
first voyagers were those of the Garden of Eden, 
and whose descendants still journey along the same 
course as their forefathers did, though with a richer 
understanding of the Divine Cosmos and a fuller 
revelation of the evolutionary principles that urge 
forward the development of mankind. The Sea- 
man asks Apollo if there is a hand upon the helm 
of this new ship the Earth and the God cites the 
many marvels of natural phenomena in reply. He 

" But if thy former priestly ship 
Failed of the port assigned, 
The overwhelming globe takes on 
Her altar-flame of mind. 
See that the oils that feed the lamp 
Fail not! " 

The Seaman asks what those oils are, and is told 
; ' Heroic, warm abounding souls ! " and also 
obtains some hint from the God of the evolutionary 
development of a race's organs of understanding. 
The Seaman still dreads lest immortality has 
become a lost heritage however, and demands 
further information. Apollo answers that he will 
tell him, " but as music tells," and questions him 
as to whether he has a son, to which he receives an 
affirmative reply. " And never yet hast guessed 
that thou and he art one ! " the God ejaculates, and 


forthwith proceeds to speak the lines in which the 
chief philosophy of the poem is compressed 

" Between you between all that love 
Runs no gulf wide nor deep, 
But a sheen'd veil, thinner than any veil, 
Thin as the veil of sleep 
Through the death-veil looming silverly 
Through the self-veil's subtle strand; 
Before its seeing rock-walls melt 
And cracks the mortal band. 
For when once the whole consummate strength 
Of thy slow-kindling mind 
Can see in the heart's light at length 
All the strange sons of mankind, 
Then thie Earth that else were but a strait 
Rock sepulcre is new: 
Of what account to it is death? 
It is glowing through and through, 
It moveth, alive with a God's breath, 
Translucent as the dew." 

The eighth and last section of the work is the only 
portion that Holbrooke has elected to treat chorally, 
and it describes the effect of the earth's aspect and 
of the sight of his own son upon the Seaman in the 
light of the new knowledge that has been revealed 
to him. 

It must be acknowledged that Holbrooke had a 
very noble subject in this poem to work upon. The 
topic of immortality must always be of great interest 
to Christian and to Pagan alike. To the believer, 
his trust leads him to the assurance that all his 
highest ideals will one day be realised. Even the 
Pagan has some dim feeling of the imperishable 


nature of spirit and thought as his many supersti- 
tions go to show. However elementary his views, 
too, upon the mysteries of time and space may be, 
these lead him to the acknowledgment of some 
Higher Control in the directing of the nature forces 
and of an eternity which, at the same time, he is 
unable to explain. This subjection to an incom- 
prehensible Ruler and Creator led the Pagan Wor- 
shipper to credit Him with all his own cherished 
ideals of strength, beauty, passion and power. 
There was some active superhuman Force at work 
in the Universe some Being that transcended the 
limitations imposed upon puny man and each race 
had to explain It as best it could. The leading 
ideals of different nations, however, were generally 
quite distinctive, and, to this cause, we owe the 
many and varied conceptions of the Godhead that 
we encounter in the rusticity of the Scandinavian, 
the gracefulness of the Grecian, and the fanaticism 
of the Brahministic mythologies. As Carlyle once 
said, " Worship is transcendent wonder," and the 
untutored ages, in reverence of the marvels of the 
Universe, often mistook the subjective activities of 
nature for objective activities, and expressed their 
fealty by deifying the visible emblem. And 
whether we are Christians or Pagans, we all have 
our intuitions. We are all made to feel the power 
of a Control higher than ourselves, of a beauty that 
we are dimly conscious of but can never see, the 
existence of a " light that never was on sea or land " 
the realm to which our ideals owe their distant 
birth. We poise ourselves on wings and soar a 


little; but the soul of our ideal is like a twinkling 
star far distant always shining for us, though 
sometimes obscured but never reached. Poets, 
painters and musicians have always yearned for it, 
and worn themselves to nothingness in the weary 
quest. But the star does, to some extent, lend its 
beams to their life work, and gilds it with a light 
and beauty that expresses something at least of its 
distant glory. 

This indwelling sensibility of a glory behind the 
Veil and of an incomplete revelation to mankind is 
one of the strongest arguments in support of the 
doctrine of immortality. The achievements of the 
greatest among us miss the ideals to which they are 
dedicated. There is always the consciousness of 
unattainable super-qualities beyond. The enforced 
recognition of the existence of these is sufficient, 
with the wonderful evolutionary progress of the 
past to guide us, to induce a faith that they will one 
day be more perfectly comprehended. In immor- 
tality lies the solution ; then, one feels the senses 
will be more fully awakened, and all the shadowy 
suggestions of supreme beauty that now occasion- 
ally stir the pulses within us will be transmuted into 
a perfect clarity. 

Without the hope of immortality, how futile seem 
the upward stirrings of the soul ! Only the sense 
of refinement seems then to support it, and of what 
value is that in the sum of things. These are the 
problems that confront us in the poem of Apollo 
and the Seaman. Yet it is none of these aspects 
that Holbrooke has attempted to reflect in his music. 


He has expressed his opinions thus, " Many also 
thought that I had attempted to represent the 
philosophy of the poem ' Apollo ' musically. From 
what I have said to you that, in my belief, music is 
nothing but the expression of feeling, and intense 
feeling, you will not be surprised if I tell you 
categorically that I know that philosophy cannot be 
set to music or expressed by music. What I took 
for my music from the poem was certain personality 
and action, for music is always active, if I may use 
the term. There is nothing stationary about it." 

In spite of this dictum of the composer, how- 
ever, I think that Elgar got pretty close to 
the philosophy of Newman's poem in The Dream 
of Gerontius. In that great work we are made 
to feel very potently that longing for the ideal 
and the nostalgia of the vital essences for 
the being from whence they sprang two great 
offshoots of a belief in immortality. However, 
Holbrooke has told us how he wishes his sym- 
phony to be regarded, and though we may have 
a sense as of something missed in the passing over 
of the spiritual import of its subject, it is only fair 
to consider it in the light of the composer's inten- 
tions at the time of writing it. Viewed thus, the 
work is a remarkably fine one. It is pregnant with 
powerfully expressed and picturesque ideas, and is 
clear, dramatic and thoughtful. It contains much 
music of great beauty, whose fitness to the pictorial 
situation is both eloquently and intellectually 
realised. None of the other poems, indeed, can 
show a finer regard for melody than this one does. 


It is packed full of splendid themes of a lofty and 
dignified character, vividly and strikingly pre- 
sented, whilst the whole work is particularly rich in 
that abundant vitality of which the composer holds 
the master-key. The complication of the orchestral 
score is amazing, yet all is the logical outcome of 
the subject. None of the other poems indeed show 
such rich contrasts of orchestral colouring. The 
instrumental combinations are always undergoing 
changes, and many new and beautiful effects have 
been achieved by the composer. The orchestral 
writing has the irradiating quality of the prismatic 
hues of a crystal ever shifting yet ever glowing 
whilst the music, generally, has an open-air char- 
acter about it that is thoroughly in accordance with 
the boldness of its subject, and we no longer find 
ourselves wandering about in the dim mysterious 
night beneath the dark and lofty trees of Ulalume, 
nor concerned with thoughts of frenzied horror as 
we were in The Raven and The Bells, nor revelling 
in scenes of fantasy as we were in Queen Mab. 
Instead, we have a new idiom that goes to show the 
versatility of the composer's style and the actively 
extensive nature of his mental functions. The 
Viking is the work that comes nearest into line with 
Apollo and the Seaman, but it is not nearly so 
mature as the latter work either in thought or in 

Apollo and the Seaman has been called " an 
illuminated symphony " by reason of the poet's 
intention that the text of the poem should be pro- 
jected on a screen by a magic lantern during the 


progress of the music. The object intended to be 
attained by this procedure is an effect of dignity, 
mystery and solemnity by a combination of poetry 
and music simultaneously concentrated upon the 
same ideas. The orchestral score, however, con- 
tains a note that, for the full effect, either the poem 
or the music should be known well beforehand, and 
that then their combination will not be found other- 
wise than harmonious during the actual perform- 
ance. It is also pointed out that the words of the 
poem should be cast on the screen in exact time with 
the changes of music in the orchestra as the 
Symphony proceeds, and also that the words should 
slightly precede the corresponding music. 

We saw, in the first chapter of this volume, that 
Holbrooke was not greatly in favour of this method 
of performance, and I quote a few of his own 
opinions regarding it. " That I proposed its per- 
formance should be in the dark, is true, but I did 
not favour the screen. With a long poem like 
Apollo and the Seaman it need not be said that some 
parts would hardly be touched by music much of 
the argument, for instance, and the philosophy. 
The whole poem being shown, threw the music, in 
many places, behind its purpose, hence many 
opinions that the two (the poetry and music) were 
hardly wedded, were quite reasonable. With a 
shorter poem and more latitude allowed for emotion, 
the poem could be easily read ; but I fear my sym- 
pathy hardly goes towards a screen. It is impos- 
sible to employ two senses at once, especially 
reading and listening." 


Apollo and the Seaman was twice produced at 
Queen's Hall in 1907, conducted by Sir Thomas 
Beecham, and the composer respectively. The 
orchestra intended by the composer is one of 85 to 
100 performers, together with about 150 to 200 
men's voices, and the instruments to be employed in 
the orchestra are as follows : Piccolo, three flutes, 
three oboes, cor-anglais, two clarinets, clarinet in E 
flat, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, three bassoons, 
contra-bassoon, four (or eight) horns, four trumpets, 
tthree trombones, contra-tuba, euphonium, two saxo- 
phones (ad lib), two sarrusophones (ad lib), three 
tympani, gran cassa, piatti, side drum, triangle, 
tambourine, bells, glockenspiel, gong, tabor, two 
harps, celesta, xylophone, violins, violas, violon- 
celli andcontra-bassi. 

The first part of the Symphony is intended to 
reflect the first three sections of the poem. 

It commences with an introductory passage in 
which we first hear a bold, authoritative " Apollo " 
theme representative of his coming to earth, and 
so, indirectly, of " immortality." 

Later, we have another theme, also relating to 
Apollo, descriptive of the lines 

" For none had known him by his gait 
Descending from the hills " 

which is heard from the clarinets and saxophone 
accompanied by bassoons. This has a curious but 
very opd effect 



A few bars for horns, trumpets and saxophones, 
alone, then lead into the first subject of the work 
the " Seaman " or " Mortality " theme. This is 
of a delightful breezy quality, and proceeds from 
piccolo, flutes, clarinets and first violins, with sup- 
port from most of the remainder of the orchestra 

In this virile manner the music proceeds for some 
time, and is full of happy picturesque suggestions. 

The second subject of the movement appears in 
the key of A minor in two-four time, and is illus- 
trative of " the rumour " that the Seaman has heard 
concerning the floundering of his ship, " Immor- 



The development section that follows is techni- 
cally and dramatically strong, whilst the whole 
movement, generally, is full of interest. As far as 
form goes, it is very free, but the clear, well-defined 
themes, so healthy and sane as they are in char- 
acter, are splendidly exhilarating. The " Sea- 
man " theme is particularly buoyant, and makes us 
feel very potently the wind-swept surface of the 
watery wastes and the free, debonair life of those 
who voyage upon them. It is the outer and not 
the inner aspect of the poetical allegory that Hol- 
brooke's music defines, and it is replete with that 
quality which he claims for it the quality of action 
and, moreover, action of a bold, vivid type rich 
in atmospheric suggestion and romantic in spirit. 

The second movement of this work is strangely 
scored (wind and brass), and comprises that section 
of the poem in which Apollo confirms to the Sea- 
man the rumour of the loss of his ship and informs 
him that He, the God, was the builder of it. This 
takes the place of the Andante in the more conven- 
tional symphonic form, though, here, the opening 
tempo is moHo allegro mysterioso, and there are 
many variations of this during the course of the 
movement to suit the exigencies of the poetical 


A later meno mosso molto passage, illustrative 
of the line " Like man's weariness of everything 
that is,'* lends a pleasing and effective contrast to 
the opening musical material. No strings at all 
are employed during the whole course of this move- 

The third movement, which is rhapsodical in 
character, is the longest of the symphony, and is 
concerned with the two sections of the poem (the 
fifth and sixth), in which Apollo tells his story con- 
cerning the fate of the ship of his own creation, and 
is rebuked by the Seaman for what he considers a 
wanton act on the part of the God. Here there is 
some falling off in the thematic interest of the music, 
which becomes rather patchy and chaotic, though 
the intellectual character of it is indubitable, and 
the harmonisation and orchestral writing is often of 
an amazing cleverness. It opens andantino, molto 
agitato, during the course of which we encounter 
some clever working and developments of pre- 
viously heard motifs. 

A new plastic theme is also heard on the violins 
and clarinets that becomes of great importance as 
the movement progresses. 

The lines descriptive of the mutinous turmoil of 
the ship's crew 

" Confused blasts insolent uproar 
From torch 'd -and naked men," 

are thus defined in the music 



This is given out by the full orchestra, and from 
this point the harmonic design of the movement is 
of the most uncanny character and riotous freedom. 
It relies less on the beauty of its themes than on its 
marvellously vivid tonal combinations and orches- 
tral colourings. We are carried away into an orgie 
of reckless diablerie, where, if the music is not 
always aesthetically beautiful, it is, at least, realisti- 
cally in keeping with the subject matter that 
generated it. It is relieved, however, at intervals 
by quieter moods in accordance with the lines of the 
poem . Without a knowledge of these to guide one, 
the listener is left sadlv bewildered in the midst of 


the enforced attention that the music compels. One 
passage, illustrative of the lines 

" Out of the thronged expanse, skull bare 
Heads rose and dropped again " 

has a particularly arresting quality by reason of the 
poignant anguish that it reveals. 

The finale opens allegro molto maestoso. Here 
we get a new version of the " Apollo" theme of 
p. 198 (No. i) from the horns as if to coincide with 
the character of the new ship that he has created 
and which the poem here describes. The music 
that follows is mainly built up out of material 
borrowed from the theme of p. 199 and from the 
" Rumour " and " Apollo " themes. 

When the God asks 

"What matters if life ends?" 

the character of the ensuing musical subject is pre- 
figured in a dialogue, divided between saxophones, 
sarrusophone and bass clarinet. Then that subject 
itself appears adagio solenne (p. 204), headed w r ith 
the line 

" I shall tell thee but as music tells," 

with which the God prefixes his account of the true 
meaning of creation. The individual has been 
doubtful of the Cosmos, and has experienced a great 
upheaval of faith ; but now comes to him the 
divinely solemn assurance of the reality of life 
beyond the grave and le neant des choses humaines, 


as Balzac once expressed it. His doubts pass away 
as his mental vision becomes more clarified. It is 
the consolatory character of the God's message thai 
the composer has sought to define in tone at this 
point, and he has done so in a noble passage of 
overwhelming eloquence. His music shows a 
magnificent perception of the dignity and greatness 
of the subject with which it has to deal, and the 
sonorous simplicity of its material, combined with 
the strength of its religious feeling, are superb in 
their emotional appeal. No wood-wind or brass 
instruments are, here, employed at all. 

This section of the work, together with the choral 
portion that follows, is by far the finest by reason 
of the conciseness of the writing. Much of the 
third movement of the work suffers from over- 
elaboration and profuseness, and the work, gener- 
ally, is unduly long, and would benefit greatly by 
compression. Here, in the last movement, we have 
a terse epitome of the leading ideas of the poem, and 
performances of this, apart from the rest of the 
work, which have occasionally been given, have 
proved very interesting, even if they have been 
rather incomplete as definitions of the full subject 

The choral section of the work is divided between 
tenors and basses no female voices being 
employed at all. It commences with an account 
of the departure of the God, set in the form of a 
recitative, gradually rising up the scale, and accom- 
panied by a long sustained common chord of C 
major from the strings. Then the " Seaman " 



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theme of p. 198 (No. 2) begins to assert itself in the 
orchestra, whilst the vocal writing follows as nearly 
as possible the inflexions of the speaking voice. 
Reminiscences of the theme of p. 199 again recur 
in the instrumental tones until the glorious melody 
of p. 204 re-appears with vocal reinforcement molto 
maestoso, adagio non troppo, creating a magnifi- 
cently impressive effect. The close of the move- 
ment, also, with its unusual harmonic progressions, 
can hardly fail to interest all those who can appre- 
ciate the added tonal beauties with which modern 
art has enriched the science of music. 

The finest portion of this work, as has already 
been pointed out, is that which is dominated by the 
theme of p. 204, and this, as we have seen, is con- 
cerned with Apollo's promise of immortality, and 
not with any external happenings. The music is, 
here, allowed to proceed evenly upon its course 
without any occasionally irritating obtrusions of 
irrelevant, secondary, material, suggested by the 
verbal ideas of the poem. It is less a picture than 
an emotion that it defines. Certain portions of 
The Viking, Queen Mab and The Song of Givyn 
ap Nudd did the same, and the most distinguishing 
qualities of those works were to be found there. The 
pictorial should have its place in art, by all means, 
but it should not be allowed to monopolise affairs. 
Abstract ideas and psychology call for illustration, 
too. We find fragmentary traces of the composer's 
realisation of this need in both his poems and sym- 
phonies, but it is the pictorial aspect that is mainly 
predominant. He has great powers of visualisa- 


tion, but he generally visualises objectively rather 
than introspectively. Such poems as The Bells 
and Apollo and the Seaman, though imbued with 
wonderful strength of imagery and showing a fine 
synthetical power in their creator so as to render 
them unique in English art, nevertheless leave 
something to be desired. They amaze without 
quite satisfying. 

That the composer has the strength to write noble 
and soul-uplifting music, however, has been 
exemplified on many occasions in his work. 




Op. 36 (b) "Pierrot Ballet." 

Op. 38 " Dreamland." 

Op. 40 " Les Hommages " 


Op. 37 (a) "Three Blind Mice." 

(b) "Girl I left behind me." 
Op. 60 " Auld Lang Syne." 

Op. 6 1 " Coromanthe." 
Op. 62 "The Moth." 
Op. 66 "The Red Masque." 

Incidental Music 

Op. 17 (No. 8) " Pontorewyn." 

Brass Band Works- 
Op. 69 (a) Girgenti. 

(b) Butterfly of the Ballet. 

(c) A Hero's Dream. 

Orchestral Chorus 

Op. 26 Triumphal March. 

207 15 


IN addition to the works discussed in the two pre- 
ceding chapters, all of which are based upon poeti- 
cal subjects, there are other orchestral compositions 
whose programmic derivation is not so definite. 
These are generally light in character, and Hol- 
brooke does not regard them as representative works 
in the sense that The Raven, Ulalume, The Viking, 
The Bells and Apollo and the Seaman may be con- 
sidered such. Still, they possess many graceful 
ideas and many flashes of genuine humour, and 
they are not among the least popular of Holbrooke's 


Of the three Suites written by the composer, the 
first, the Pierrot Ballet Suite, is somewhat similar 
in its motive to that of Schumann's group of piano 
pieces Carnaval, and to that of Macdowell's group 
of piano pieces Marionettes. It comprises six 
numbers, entitled respectively The Revels, Arle- 
quin, Colombine, Pantalon, Clown and Tarantelle, 
and the music is generally of a particularly indi- 
vidual and winsome character. 

This little work, in its original form of four 
numbers, was entitled Pantomime Suite, and 
gained the " Charles Lucas " medal in 1897. As 
we saw in the first chapter, it was then written for 
strings alone, but it is now also arranged for a full 
orchestra, and forms the ballet to the Pierrot and 
Pierrette operetta. 


Altogether, the suite is a delightful example of 
the composer in his lighter mood, and it has many 

His second suite, Dreamland, however, is still 
better, and, as we have already seen, was first pro- 
duced at the Hereford Festival of 1906, though it 
was written many years before that time. It can 
lay no claims to greatness, but is, nevertheless, 
charming throughout. The gracefulness and pleas- 
ing quality of its melody should be sufficient argu- 
ment to disarm those critics who deny that the com- 
poser has the power to write it. It is packed full of 
dainty, engaging rhythms, which are handled in 
such a manner as only a man of refined musical 
temperament could have done. 

The work is divided into four parts, entitled re- 
spectively, Ensemble, The Dance, Dreaming and 
Hilarite. It is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two 
oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two 
trumpets, three trombones, tuba, three tympani, big 
drum, side drum, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, 
harp and strings. 

Holbrooke's third Suite, Les Hommages (for- 
merly known as the " Bohemian " Suite) is far more 
ambitious in its aim than either of his previous 
Suites, and it has proved one of his most respected 
works. It was originally written in 1900 for strings 
alone, but was afterwards amplified and re-scored 
by the composer, and first produced by Henry J. 
Wood at a Promenade Concert at Queen's Hall in 
October, 1906. It was intended as an act of 
homage to four composers for whom Holbrooke has 


particular admiration namely, Wagner, Grieg, 
Dvorak and Tschaikowsky. The work is in four 
movements, and each movement imitates the style 
of one of these composers in turn. The themes 
are, with one exception, the composer's own, 
but he has so steeped himself in the harmonic 
and rhythmic peculiarities of the music of the com- 
posers whose mannerisms he has chosen to imitate, 
and also in their methods of orchestral writing, that, 
in three of the movements, at least, we are never 
left in doubt for a moment of the subject imitated. 
The work is not a mere jeu d'esprit, but it is a fine 
work of art also, full of remarkable cleverness of 
idea and of execution. Outside his compositions 
with a poetical basis, it takes premier place, and 
adds further evidence of the fine versatility of its 
composer, and is also a lustre to English art 

Les Hommages is scored for three flutes, one pic- 
colo, bass-flute, two oboes, oboe d'amore, cor- 
anglais, two A clarinets, E flat clarinet, B flat 
clarinet, bass-clarinet, alto-clarinet (or corno di bas- 
setto), three bassoons, contra-bassoon, soprano B 
flat, alto E flat, tenor B flat, and baritone E flat 
saxophones, four (or eight horns), four trumpets, 
bass trumpet, three trombones, contra-tuba, contra- 
trombone, three tympani, grand cassa, side and 
tenor drums, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, gongs, 
harps and strings. 

The first movement Festiva (Marcia Heroique) 
Hommage a Wagner has no introduction, and we 
plunge, at once, into the first subject, which is 


announced by the oboes, cor-anglais and horns. 
This has some suggestions of the " curse" motif 
from The Flying Dutchman, whilst it is accom- 
panied by a busy, excitable, rhythmic figure from 
the piccolos, flutes, clarinets and strings that recalls 
the famous " Ride of the Valkyries" 


A later subject carries our memories back to one 
of the love motifs of Tristan und Isolde. 

The second movement Serenata (Hommage a 
Grieg) is only scored for a small orchestra of flute, 
oboe, clarinet, bassoon, alto and baritone saxo- 
phone, horn, harp, four first violins, four second 
violins, four violas, four violoncellos, and two 
contra-basses. This number is less successful than 
the other numbers of the Suite. It is not that it is 
unmelodious, or that it is weakly written, but that 
the Griegian character is not so well maintained in 
the music as is the character of the music of the other 
composers to which this Suite also renders homage. 
The Serenata opens in three-four time in the key of 
E minor, and, after four bars of introductory chords 
from second violins, violas, and 'cellos, the first 
theme is announced as a solo by a muted first violin. 

The third number Elegiac Poeme (Hommage a 
Dvorak) is scored for strings and harp only, the 
strings being now divided into sixteen parts. It is 
the most aesthetically beautiful portion of the Suite, 
and is full of good, contrapuntal writing. The first 
motif is announced by the strings in the key of D 
minor, and the movement has moments of great 
emotional intensity. 

In the fourth and last number, Introduction and 
Russian Dance (Hommage a Tschaikowsky), the 
full orchestra is employed. It is a superbly clever 
piece of work, ingeniously elaborated and richly 
orchestrated. The style of the Russian master is 
excellently maintained throughout, and the number 
forms an eloquent finish to an exceptionally fine 


Suite. The opening passage adagio sostenuto, for 
divided 'cellos and contra-basses and drums, takes 
us, at once, into the sombre atmosphere of the open- 
ing bars of Tschaikowsky's Pathetic Symphony. 

It is followed by an animato from the divided first 
and second violins and triangle, the material of 
which also suggests- a passage similarly placed in 
the first movement of the Russian composer's work. 

This subject is continued, with an increasing 
volume of tone, to which a few chords from the 
horns add emphasis, until a climax on syncopated 
triplet octaves from part of the wood-wind and brass 
is reached, when the music again quickens, and a 
new subject of a strenuous character is announced 
by brass and wood- wind. 

At the end of this Introduction, a few syncopated 
reiterations of the note, D, by oboes, cor-anglais, 
soprano saxophone and trumpets, succeeded by an 
ascending scale for the first and second violins, then 
lead into the Russian dance subject, which is 
announced by the first violins alone, moderate 
allegro, and afterwards treated fugally in a very 
elaborate manner. This subject is borrowed from 
a Russian folk-tune. 



A Coda ensues in which successions of thirds 
from a portion of the orchestra are heard in con- 
junction with material suggested by the fugal sub- 
ject, and the music evolves into a wild rush of notes, 
terminating ritenuto with a few heavy chords from 
the full orchestra in G major. 

Altogether, this number is a very notable achieve- 
ment. The wonderful ingenuity displayed in the 
handling of the theme, the great diversity of the 
contrapuntal writing that accompanies each appear- 
ance of it, and the vivid and varied character of the 
orchestration, alone, mark it out as the work of a 
remarkably clever musician. But it is something 
more than this. It is the work of a thorough artist. 
Not only is it rich in its technique, but also in its 
musical ideas. The combination of these two 
qualities render it a fine work of true musical genius, 
and it forms a fitting peroration to a Suite that is, 
generally, an honour to British art. 



Of Holbrooke's sets of symphonic Variations, 
that founded on the old English air of Three 'Blind 
Mice is the best known. In writing this work, the 
composer chose to don the cap and bells and to dis- 
port himself for our diversion, and his music is of 
exuberant burlesque. Humour in music, however, 
is such a comparative rarity that it is always doubly 
welcome, and, in writing in this vein, Holbrooke 
once more proved the many-sided nature of his tem- 
perament. From the gloomy poems founded on 
Edgar Allan Poe's work to the Three Blind Mice 
Variations , how wide a gulf is stretched ! Yet in 
both works, how patent is the touch of a master 
hand ! No one, indeed, was better qualified to deal 
with such a subject than Holbrooke. His power of 
in venting an apparently unending variety of rhythms 
and his fine sense of harmony enabled him to invest 
the simple little air with a wealth of subtle illustra- 
tions, all of which are conceived and executed with 
the soundest scholarship. The theme itself may 
not be of any great consequence, but the resource- 
fulness with which it is treated is beyond cavil, and 
the work is a particularly delectable one infectious 
in its humour and superabundant in its fancy. 

It was first produced by Henry J. Wood at 
Queen's Hall in 1901, and is dedicated to that fine 
critic, Ernest Newman. For its performance, a 
large orchestra is required. It is scored for piccolo, 
two flutes, two oboes, cor-anglais, two clarinets, two 


bassoons, contra-bassoon, four (or eight) horns, 
three trumpets, three trombones, bass-tuba, three 
tympani, cymbals, side-drum, triangle, tam- 
bourine, glockenspiel, harps and strings. The 
orchestral score also contains a note that the wood- 
wind may be increased ad lib. 

The theme upon which these variations are 
founded is too well known to need quotation. It is 
simply stated by the strings, minus the contra- 
bassos, and then the variations, which are twenty 
in number, commence. 

Of these, the sixth is noticeable for the humorous 
matter supplied by the wood-wind instruments ; the 
eighth, where the theme is given out in inverted 
form with a lullaby-like accompaniment from the 
wood-wind, is delightful ; in the eleventh, the first 
four bars of The British Grenadiers are introduced 
as a counter subject to the fifth and sixth bars of 
the main theme with excellent effect ; in the twelfth, 
the first line of the melody of For he's a jolly good 
fellow asserts itself hilariously from the trumpets 
in the midst of a charming and graceful waltz; in 
the fifteenth we have a stirring military march with 
the strings all silenced, in which there is again a 
fugitive hint of The British Grenadiers melody ; the 
sixteenth variation takes the form of a wild Dervish 
dance, and is one of the cleverest of the whole set ; 
in the eighteenth, we have a hornpipe, and in the 
nineteenth a funeral march of supreme beauty ; 
whilst in the twentieth, the Finale, is to be found a 
splendidly clever and ingenious piece of writing in 
which the melodies of The British Grenadiers and 


For he's a jolly good fellow are again introduced 
with exhilarating emphasis. 

This set of Variations is excellently arranged by 
the composer, and published for pianoforte duet. 

Holbrooke's set of orchestral variations on " The 
Girl I left behind me," though no less ingenious 
than the variations just discussed, in the combina- 
tions of various melodies and in the plastic mould- 
ing of the variation theme, are nevertheless not 
quite so aesthetically persuasive. They are scored 
for a grand orchestra of two (or four) flutes, two (or 
four) oboes, cor-anglais, two (or four) clarinets, bass 
clarinet, two (or four) bassoons, contra-bassoon, 
four (or eight) horns, two trumpets, two cornets, 
three trombones, contra-bass tuba, three tympani, 
bass drum, side drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, 
triangle, bells, tambourine, two (or four) harps and 
strings (60 to 90). The Variations are fifteen in 

iv. This is written in the form of a fascinating 
mazurka, with the theme very skilfully metamor- 

xi. This is the most ingenious and the most 
cleverly written of all these variations. The theme, 
in two-four rhythm, which is apportioned between 
various of the brass instruments, is canonically 
treated in the octave. With this is combined the 
melody of " My lodging is on the cold ground " in 
six-eight rhythm, from the contra-bassos. 



A solo first violin, 'cello, piccolo and oboe take 
up this latter melody at the fifth bar, which is thus 
made to form then a double counterpoint to the 
variation subject. It is also continued half way 
through the second half of the latter air by first 
violins, 'cellos, piccolo and oboes. 


xii. Here we have an adagio sostenuto, with the 
variation theme given out by the first violins and 
doubled, part of the way, by flute, clarinet, piccolo 
and oboe in turn, and supported by chords from 
others among the wood-wind instruments and 
strings. Against this, contrary motion is heard 
from other parts of the orchestra, whilst fragments 
of the melody of " Rule Britannia" are. introduced 
as a counterpoint from time to time. 

xni. This Variation is very weird in effect. The 
theme is given out vivace by the violins and violas 
in the key of C minor, with some shifting in the 
position of its accents. 

xiv. The theme is much metamorphosed in this 
variation, and now appears andante in three-four 
time from a solo viola. 

xv. In the last variation, all dark moods are cast 
aside, and the tone of the music is bright and 
joyous. The full theme appears twice, and, on its 
first appearance, the rhythm is ingeniously varied, 
and the early bars of it are apportioned between pic- 
colo, flutes, oboes and cor-anglais, and combined 
with a contrapuntal subject from the strings. 
During the course of this, there are also entries for 
the side drum and glockenspiel. 

In addition to being scored for the full orchestra, 
these Variations are excellently arranged for a mili- 
tary band of piccolos, flutes, oboes, cor-anglais, B 
flat, E flat, alto and bass clarinets, bassoons, 
soprano, alto, tenor and bass saxophones, cornets, 
flugel horns, trumpets, horns, baritones, eupho- 
niums, trombones, bombardons, sousaphones, sar- 


rusophones, tympani, glockenspiel, triangle, tam- 
bourine, side drum, bass drum, cymbals and jingles 
by the composer. 

Holbrooke's third set of Variations (Op. 60) on 
the air of Auld lang syne is even superior to the 
two earlier sets, and further exemplify his wonderful 
facility in writing in this form. The variations, 
which are twenty in number, are intended as por- 
traitures of various musical friends of the composer, 
and partly, as imitations, of certain characteristics 
to be found in their work. Elgar attempted some- 
thing similar in his Enigma Variations. 

The Auld lang syne variations are scored for pic- 
colo, two flutes, two oboes, cor-anglais, E flat 
clarinet, two B flat clarinets, bass clarinet, corno-di- 
basetto, two bassoons, contra-bassoon, four (or 
eight) horns, four trumpets, three tenor trombones, 
bass trombone, euphonium, contra-bass tuba, three 
tympani, gran-cassa, and becken, side drum, 
triangle, harps, glockenspiel, xylophone and 

The theme is first announced by trumpets in the 
key of G, accompanied lightly by horns, trombones 
and remaining trumpets. Of the variations, the 
first (J.H.), representative of the composer, has the 
theme apportioned between various instruments, 
poco animato, the first half of it being accom- 
panied by flowing quaver movement, and the latter 
half by full chords, during which the music pro- 
ceeds to a climax and then relaxes. No brass 
instruments are used in this variation. Var. 4 (Cole- 
ridge-Taylor), adagio sostenuto, is of a tragic cast, 


with a minor version of the melody, partly in the 
clarinet and second violin parts and partly in the 
horn, trumpet, violin and viola parts, to which a 
tremolo from the lower strings adds a prominent 

Var. 5 (Vaughan Williams) is also in a minor 
key, and the theme is heard from the brass, allied 
to heavy chords from the same part of the 
orchestra, and surrounded by a frisking series of 
semi -quaver notes from wood-wind and strings. 
The music of this variation is particularly fine. 

Var. 9 is interesting as a portraiture of Edward 
Elgar. The full orchestra is employed, and the 
writing is very delicate and graceful. The varia- 
tion theme is almost submerged whilst two well-con- 
trasted subjects proceed from different parts of the 
orchestra. We also have suggestions of the melody 
of All thro' the night. 

The tenth Variation is very ingenious. It is 
intended as a musical portraiture of F. Delius, and 
is an adagio sostenuto in eight-four time. Here the 
main theme is cleverly combined with the melody 
of Auld Robin Gray. 

The fifteenth Variation (C.F.) is a poco allegro 
moderato in which the variation subject appears in 
metamorphosed form above tonic and dominant 
pedals, whilst the violins dance a light measure of 
semi-quavers throughout. The effect is very 

The nineteenth Variation (J.H.F.) is very attrac- 
tive, and opens with octave passages for violins and 
violas played mostly in contrary movement to 


octave passages for 'cellos and basses. Combined 
with these, the brass instruments assert the Varia- 
tion theme. Later, the airs of Yankee Doodle and 
Annie Laurie are heard on the glockenspiel. 

The Finale (Granville Bantock) is an allegro 
maestoso molto, and it forms a dignified and im- 
pressive peroration to a remarkably fine and well- 
proportioned work. 

Altogether, three such sets of Variations as we 
have here would be sufficient to build up any com- 
poser's reputation ; yet they form but a branch of 
Holbrooke's genius. That he has a special gift 
for this class of work, there can be no gainsaying. 
Moreover, his music pulses along in such a facile 
fashion that it is easy to overlook the fine technique 
underlying it. Ars est celare artem. He has taken 
simple themes and moulded them in plastic fashion 
into forms full of rich contrasts. The different 
shades of emotion scattered over these groups of 
variations are quite protean in character, and such 
as one would expect from a man whose art is not 
cramped by the limited boundaries that hem in so 
many other composers. 


Holbrooke shares with many other modern 
musicians an interest in the Ballet, and has 
written four works of great distinction belong- 
ing to this class of musical composition, of 
which the " Pierrot " ballet-music has already 
obtained separate mention. These do not follow 


in the track of the airily graceful ballets of 
the French school, as represented by Delibes, 
which fall with such dulcet charm upon the 
ear but never stir any emotions far below the 
surface; nor do they follow in the track of later 
writers, such as Stravinsky, whose work often 
repels by reason of its eccentricity. Instead, Hol- 
brooke steers a middle course between the two, and 
has based his work on beautiful melody combined 
with rich poetic suggestiveness. In its imagina- 
tive quality, the music of his ballets comes more 
into line with some of the work of Chabrier, though 
the idiom of the two composers is different. 

Coromanthe or The Dawn of Love (Op. 61) is a 
particularly exquisite creation, and ranks high 
among the composer's general work. It centres 
round the .following subject: Coromanthe pre- 
sents herself before the Gods seated upon their 
throne of cloud in the sky, and mutely pleads with 
them for the removal of the dark mists that veil 
the face of the sun. At first they listen coldly, but 
ultimately relent and then withdraw; whereupon, 
Coromanthe, in delirium, breaks into a " dance of 
joy." Later, she sings a rhapsody of greeting to 
the dawn that comes with the sun's release from 
night. A handsome young God then enters and 
wooes her hotly. Coromanthe returns the God's 
caresses, and falls asleep on his breast. He places 
her to rest on a cloud, but the hot sun, beating down 
upon her, renders her uneasy, so that the God covers 
the sun's face with his cloak and a marvellous sun- 
set results. Puzzled at the strange light, the old 




Gods return, but, discovering the cause, again 
retire. Then the wooing of Coromanthe by her 
superhuman lover becomes more intense, and, 
together, they sink earthwards in their passion as 
the curtain falls. 

The work is written for full orchestra, and opens 
with a beautiful and eloquent theme for horns 
expressive of the mystery of the godlike lover 

As Coromanthe appeals to the Gods, the music 
is full of emotional intensity, and when she has 
gained her purpose and she is left alone, the 
mysterious theme already quoted again asserts it- 
self as if to prefigure the approaching " dawn of 
love." Her dance, save for a short passage poco 
presto in two-four time, is in waltz rhythm, and 
is both gracefully melodious and fascinating. At 
the close, the " dawn of love " theme reappears to 
herald in her song, an optional number, which may 
be either cut or retained. The work, however, is 
much more complete with this vocal portion than 
without it, for it is full of a glowing ecstasy, and is 
one of the finest of all the composer's works for a 
solo voice. With the entry of the young God, the 
main theme naturally surges up in the orchestra to 


be followed by other thematic material taken from 
the introduction. And so the music proceeds, now 
palpitating with passion and now lulling to 
sensuous peaceful happiness. It is a thing- of sheer 
poetic beauty throughout, without a single dull 
thought creeping in to mar any single part. 

The second ballet, " The Moth" (Op. 62), also 
for full orchestra, though rather less distinguished 
than its predecessor, is, nevertheless, a work of 
much charm. " Moth " is discovered asleep under 
the trees until six Glow worms enter, and, dancing 
around, awake him. Still languid from sleep, 
Moth joins in their measure in a slow and dignified 
manner. The moon is slowly rising, and as Moth 
sees it he grows excited, and all kneel and do 
homage to it. As they kneel, Flame dashes on and 
dances wildly, and, finally, disappears, followed by 
the attracted Moth. Six Sparks who had attended 
Flame then dance with the Glow worms. Flame 
reappears dancing with Moth circling around her. 
Finally, Moth rushes at Flame and embraces her. 
There is a blinding flash of red, followed b^ dark- 
ness, and the curtain falls. 

The opening musical passages are exquisitely 
suggestive of the peaceful orchard flooded with 
moonlight where Moth lies sleeping, and there are 
here some wonderfully expressive harmonic pro- 
gressions. The entrance of the Glow Worms takes 
place to a graceful cantabile passage in waltz tempo. 
There is much piquancy, too, in the music of the 
dance of the Moth. In the dance of Flame, the 
orchestra is much occupied with a little upward 


flickering motif that is very suggestive of darting 
flames. In the Dance of the Sparks and Glow 
Worms, the consecutive fifths in the middle part of 
the harmony above a freakish little figure from the 
lower instruments combine to produce a movement 
of much character. The end of the ballet is drama- 
tically achieved, and the work, though less com- 
plete poetically than many of the composer's other 
conceptions, possesses a good deal of fascination. 

The Red Masque (Op. 67) is a work of larger 
dimensions than the other two ballets, and its sub- 
ject has been adapted from the famous story by 
Edgar Allan Poe. The scene of the first part of 
the first act is laid outside the gates of the Palace, 
within which Prince Prospero is giving a ball to 
his friends, knights and ladies. In the second 
part of this scene he commences a languid dance, 
but is interrupted by a rabble of yokels, who come 
laden with fruit, wine, etc. The Prince directs them 
to the entrance door of the Palace, and they pass 
inside with their provisions. 

We then reach the second act (which is in three 
parts), within the Palace, where a scene of unbridled 
license and revelry prevails. In and out among 
the wild throng of dancers moves a shrouded figure 
in grey clinging garments, splotched with scarlet 
blobs. It moves in a slow palsied dance amongst 
the crowd, who shrink away in horror. The 
Prince, dancing with his favourite light of love, 
11 Beauty,'* is interrupted by his guests, who 
implore his help, pointing in terror to the right. 
The clock strikes six, and the Prince resumes his 


dance and removes the veil from his lady's face, 
becoming eager in his attentions. She flies and he 

In the second part we have a bacchanal dance. 
The Prince sees something which appals him. He 
rushes to Beauty, who escapes him again. The 
clock strikes ten. In the last part the Prince 
hurries into the Palace after the sinister stranger, 
and makes imperious gestures of dismissal. The 
figure points to the clock, which now booms out the 
hour of midnight. The Prince retreats in terror, 
as the shrouded being pursues him slowly and 
menacingly among the dancers. The figure then 
throws off its spectral shape, and is seen to be no 
other than Beauty the dancer. 

As will be seen from this sketch, as appended to 
the ballet, the subject varies from that of Poe, and 
loses a lot in the transformation. In his desire to 
give a less gruesome ending to his work, the com- 
poser has sacrificed the dramatic completeness that 
the story possessed, and the eerie character of the 
Red Death as imagined by Poe loses its symbolical 
significance, and becomes an uninteresting and un- 
convincing personage. Holbrooke's music, how- 
ever, is so realistically vivid and fine that one comes 
to the conclusion that it was rather Poe's version 
of the story than this altered version that he had in 
mind when writing most of it. 

The work is scored for a full orchestra, and the 
leading theme of the first number in the scene out- 
side the palace is bold and dramatic, as if sug- 
gesting portentous events 



This rhythm dominates things for some time until 
a sinister subject in the bass asserts itself. This is, 
in turn, ousted by a new and important subject re- 
presentative of the dandified petulant Prince, and 
suggested by the last quoted subject. Then the 
music proceeds to grow more wild and riotous, and 
chromatic harmony is freely indulged in until a 
gong booms out the hour of three. 

The Dance of the buffoons and deformed is 
formed from material largely borrowed from the 
theme quoted above. At the close of this the clock 
strikes four. 

The dance of Prince Prospero is a valse 


mysterious in C minor, and the harmonies are 
weird and harsh in quality, descriptive of the 
ribald voluptuousness of the masquerade. In 
this fashion the music continues for some time, 
during which a passage of open consecutive 
fifths above a pedal passage is conspicuous for 
the strangeness of its effect, whilst the chro- 
matic, swaying nature of the melody is very 
suggestive. With the striking of the hour of five, 
we have a change of key, during which the orchestra 
bandies about ideas borrowed from the valse theme. 
Time passes quickly during this dance (which is 
one of the best parts of the work), and with the 
striking of the hour of eight the movement closes. 

The Bacchanal Dance is appropriately wild and 
very attractive in character, and is based on some 
bold, vigorous melody. The hour of ten is heard 
sounding as it ends. 

The Finale, " Dance of Death," repeats much of 
the material of the first number, and then merges 
into some well-imagined and dramatic develop- 
ments in which the orchestral writing is very power- 
fully accomplished. The clock strikes twelve, and, 
from this point, the music races forward and 
terminates in frenzied passages of wild emotion. 

As far as mere brilliance goes, The Red Masque 
is the most remarkable of all the ballets, and its 
fantastic subject is reflected in most picturesque 
manner in the music. One cannot get away from 
the fact, however, that it belongs to the sensational 
things of musical art just as Hugo's Les Miser- 


ables belongs to the sensational things of litera- 
ture. Both compel one's admiration by reason of 
their rich vitality and glowing imagination, but, 
speaking personally, much as I prefer the more 
sober hues of the novels of the Wizard of the North 
to the more flamboyant pages of the French classic, 
so I prefer the poetic charm of Coromanthe to the 
feverish fancies of The Red Masque. 

Incidental Music. 

. Among the miscellaneous orchestral works must 
also be ranked the incidental music to a one-act 
Welsh drama by T. E. Ellis, entitled Pontorewyn 
(Op. 17, No. 8). This consists of three small 
sections, of which the first opens with a short 
introductory andante passage of three bars. After 
this the first subject appears allegro con fuoco. 
This is sonorous in character, and proceeds with 
characteristic strepitosity until a few bars in slow 
time, curiously harmonised, are reached. A march 
subject ensues, which eventually merges into the 
theme of The Men of Harlech, boldly delivered by 
the orchestra with effective tone colour. The second 
section, larghetto molto expressivo, is founded on 
one of the oldest and most popular folk-tunes in 
Wales (Song of the Bottle), which is also utilised 
in the Prelude to the opera Broniven. This noble 
air also supplies the material for the concluding 
funeral march. 


The music of Pontorewyn throughout is most 

Brass Band Works. 

Three works for brass bands form the composer's 
Opus 69 (i) Girgenti; (2) f Butterfly of the Ballet; 
and (3) A Hero's Dream. 

The first of these commences andante sostenuto 
with an expressive theme of much poetic charm, and 
throughout the whole work the stream of melody 
flows unabated. Never has the composer's gift of 
simple, unaffected tunefulness served him in better 
stead. Contrasted with some of his more dramatic 
creations, it still further proves his versatility. 

Butterfly of the Ballet ft in common time, and is 
rather shorter than Girgenti. It is a bright vivace, 
full of pleasing rhythmic fancies that trip along in 
an easy, debonair style, but it has not the poetic 
charm of the first number of the group. 

A Hero's Dream opens with an expressivo canta- 
bile movement in common time, full of placid 
appeal, and has a bustling middle section, molto 
allegro marcia, which is tunefully vigorous and 
affords an excellent contrast to the material that pre- 
cedes it. At the close of this, the first subject is 
resumed. A short allegro passage terminates the 

Conductors of brass bands have often made an 
outcry against the lack of such compositions as are 
to be found here. The musical material of all of 
them is both tuneful and interesting, whilst the 


writing for the instruments is what one would 
expect from a master of orchestral craftsmanship. 
Though they are of comparative unimportance when 
brought into line with his many greater orchestral 
compositions, they can, in no wise, be accounted 

Orchestra and Chorus. 

Marche Triumphale (Op. 26). This was written 
for a competition at the time of the coronation of 
King Edward VII., but was rejected. When one 
calls to mind the work that won the prize, one can 
only marvel. Patriotic sentiment almost always 
fails in generating inspired art, and usually leads 
instead to an inflated pretentiousness of style that is 
anything but commendable. Elgar made a com- 
parative failure with his Coronation Ode, and Hol- 
brooke cannot be said to be at his best in his Marche 
Triumphale. The subject with which he had to 
deal was of too stereotyped a character to suit the 
peculiar bent of his genius, though his March is 
quite a fair thing of its class. It is written for 
Chorus and an Orchestra consisting of piccolo, 
flutes, oboes, clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoons, 
horns, cornets, trumpets, trombones, tuba, eupho- 
nium, tympani, big drum, side drum, organ and 
strings. The work opens with a few bars of the 
National Anthem from organ and strings, adagio 
sostenuto. A fanfare or two from the trumpets and 


cornets then lead into the first vocal theme of bold 
swinging rhythm set to the lines 

" Imperial Empire, throned in peace, 
Thy voice is as the boundless sea 
Whose mighty song shall never cease 
Beneath whatsoever sky it glow." 

which is accompanied, with pompous effect, by the 
full orchestra. There is a tuneful middle move- 
ment, cantabile expressive), in F major, first pre- 
sented by the orchestra alone, and then repeated by 
the voices and the work, after a repetition of the 
first vocal subject ends in pompous, busy fashion. 
The themes of the National Anthem and " Rule, 
Britannia " are freely introduced into the musical 

This work, among the bulk of Holbrooke's many 
compositions, has little artistic significance. It 
goes, however, to show the composer's love of 
" fresh fields and pastures new " wherein he may 
meditate new fancies. It is to such excursive tem- 
peraments as his, moreover, that we owe the re- 
juvenation of the art of music from time to time. 



Op. 36 " Pierrot and Pierrette." 

Op. 56 "The Children of Don." 

Op. 53 "Dylan." 

Op. 67 " Bronwen." 

WE have seen, in preceding chapters, how Hol- 
brooke apparently became dissatisfied with the 
purely orchestral poem as a means of expressing 
romantic verse, and how his inclinations have led 
him, of late years, to pay more attention to vocal 
writing than he did at the outset of his career. 
Taking into consideration the dramatic quality of 
his genius, it was only natural that this dramatic 
gift should have eventually directed his thoughts 
towards the significance of opera as the most com- 
plete form of union between music and poetry. 
Yet, " thoughts are but dreams till their effect is 
tried " ; and, as Holbrooke is a man of action as well 
as a dreamer, his thoughts were bound to find an 
outlet by means of objective art some time or other. 
His natural energy and strong enthusiasms, indeed, 
are always urging him to test the effect of the various 
convictions and impulses that germinate within his 
brain, and there are few branches of his art that he 



has not touched. He was quick to perceive the 
importance of the introduction of voices into his 
orchestral poems to act as interpreters of the flow 
of musical speech which, otherwise, proved some- 
what ambiguous in meaning. 

In opera, too, he foresaw that his own powers of 
pictorial suggestion could be brought home to his 
listeners still more vividly, and that even stage 
effects were better than no effects at all to induce the 
right emotional mood for the comprehension of the 
spirit of the music. Stage action, allied to music 
illustrative of the situation, would stir the senses 
quicker than any mere vocalised description of the 
same scene or any graphically dramatic and purely 
instrumental music, representative of the same sub- 
ject, with which the listener might or might not have 
been previously made familiar, could do. So, with 
regard to the stage setting, a visible representation 
of the scenic surroundings among which the events 
of the story subject were placed, would lend much 
aid in elucidating the atmospheric suggestions of 
the music. 

The operetta Pierrot and Pierrette is, I suspect, 
experimental. It is based upon a rather conven- 
tional subject, of no great poetical significance, and 
aims at nothing great in the way of musical expres- 
sion ; but it led the w r ay to the magnificent works 
that were to follow, and is a landmark that goes 
to show the composer's remarkable progress as an 
operatic writer since. 

Pierrot and Pierrette, in spite of many tragic 
moments in its story, is essentially light in char- 


acter. It is not a work of commanding genius, but 
it is a work of very great charm and of much melodic 
gracefulness. It is also well adapted for theatrical 
representation. A few performances of it were given 
at His Majesty's Theatre in November, 1909, but 
the work was very inadequately rendered, and the 
mounting of it was bad. This is to be regretted, 
for the little operetta, well produced and well sung, 
ought to obtain much success ; moreover, at the 
performance at His Majesty's, only a bare pro- 
gramme was available, there being no analysis of 
the work at hand to enhance the interest of the 

The book of the opera is written by Walter E. 
Grogan, and the subject is an allegorical one. The 
idea of it was evidently borrowed, to some extent, 
from the " Faust " legends. The drama is in two 
acts (or scenes), and is played throughout in an old- 
world garden in an atmosphere of moonlight. The 
rising of the curtain displays Pierrette, who is 
anxiously awaiting her lover, Pierrot. In the back- 
ground sits Pierrette's nurse. When Pierrot enters, 
Pierrette fearfully closes the garden-door lest the 
voice of the town should lure her lover from her 
side. The moonlight becomes veiled, and the 
Nurse sings ominously : 

" Moons wax and wane, 

Above dead flowers weeps the rain. 

Roses die, 

And, unremembered, rot and lie; 

All life is so, 

I know." 

* Since this was written, the woric has been frequently and 
successfully performed. 


Pierrot and Pierrette, however, soon forget the 
Nurse's words after she has left them, and their 
love scene is renewed. They are interrupted by a 
voice from without, proceeding from a personage 
known as the " Stranger," urging Pierrot to follow 
him into the world. The stranger is a sort of 
Mephistophelean character, who acts as tempter to 
both lovers, with partial success in the case of the 
man, but with total failure in the case of the woman. 
Then begins the contest in Pierrot's mind between 
the force of his love for Pierrette and the force of 
the fascinations of the world, as now enumerated 
to him by the Stranger. Finally, worldly desires 
prevail. The enchantment of love grows dull in 
Pierrot's soul, and Pierrette is left in her lonely 

The second act opens with the same scene. The 
Nurse is discovered, awaiting the arrival of the 
Stranger, who has bribed her to open the garden- 
door to him. When Pierrette sadly enters a little 
later, she does not observe the intruder in the 
garden, but sings to the moon of her sorrows until 
the Stranger confronts her. He urges his love upon 
her, and tries to persuade her that Pierrot has for- 
gotten her. She, however, refuses to hear ill spoken 
of her lover, and pours out her utmost scorn upon 
the man who would beguile her. Abashed, the 
coward slinks from the garden. At this point, the 
voice of Pierrot singing, in the distance, a song of 
love that she knows well recalls her from her gloomy 
thoughts. Not as a joyful lover does he come this 
time, however, but as a broken and disillusioned 


man, who dreads lest love has ended for him. 
Pitying his desolation, Pierrette approaches him, 
until, half wonderingly, he realises that the garden 
is no longer a desert place, but that the moonlight 
falls upon it as tenderly as ever, and that Love is 
king of it still. 

As I have said before, the story is simple, and an 
allegorical one, and the characters move across the 
scene as symbols of certain impalpable things. 
Thus, Pierrette stands for Constant Love, and Pier- 
rot for the reverse ; whilst the Nurse (a character 
somewhat similar to the Barbara of Goethe's 
Wilhelm Meister) stands for Evil, and the Stranger 
for the Temptations of the World. 

The music of this drama is allotted as follows : 
Baritone, Pierrot; Tenor, the Stranger; Soprano, 
Pierrette ; Contralto, the Nurse. It abounds in very 
pleasing melody, and the music illustrative of the 
various characters is well differentiated, but the 
opera, in spite of much tenderness of feeling, is 
rather devoid of any poignant emotional intensities, 
and lacks dramatic grip. It skates too much over 
the surface of things and portrays the tumults rather 
than the depths of the soul. Still, the work has a 
very definite atmosphere about it and a certain in- 
definable charm that is very alluring. The orches- 
tration is light, the number of instruments employed 
being almost Mozartian in simplicity, though use 
is made of a saxophone, some concertinas, and 
harps. There is also a light ballet of six dances 
now added to this work between the two scenes, 
of which mention has previously been made. 


We have seen before that Holbrooke is not a man 
who is easily discouraged. He believes in a future 
for British opera. Undeterred by any cold douches 
of criticism, he has gone on working for some years 
at a cyclopean work before which all his earlier 
operatic attempts fade into insignificance. This is 
an operatic trilogy founded on a poetical drama by 
T. E. Ellis (Lord Howard de Walden), entitled The 
Cauldron of Anwyn. 

Conceptions of a far-reaching and colossal char- 
acter have always exercised a fascination over 
certain types of the literary and musical mind. Did 
not Balzac plan and execute his immense work, the 
Comedie Humaine? Did not Zola write a fine 
trilogy of the three cities Lourdes, Rome, Paris? 
Did not Anthony Trollope give us a splendid 
picture of clerical and country life in his Barset- 
shire novels? Has not Hardy written a work of 
tremendous scope in The Dynasts, and Remain- 
Rolland in Jean Christophe? Among musicians, 
Wagner stands out supreme as the creator of the 
Ring. Holbrooke's scheme of an operatic trilogy 
ranks with these wide-embracing conceptions. 
Though it may not be quite a fait accompli, two, 
out of its three parts, are now complete, and are 
entitled The Children of Don and Dylan respec- 

These two music-dramas are works of command- 
ing genius, and exhibit the composer at the very 
plenitude of his powers. To plan and achieve such 
works at a time when English art products of this 

* Since this was written, the opera Bronwen has been completed. 


nature obtain so little encouragement is an act of 
splendid courage I might say of splendid self-con- 
fidence too. Holbrooke has been undismayed at 
the bigness of the task before him. He has had 
something of importance to say, and he has felt that, 
coute que coute, he must express it in definite form. 
The world, at large, has reaped the benefit, and 
should, one day, eventually endorse the composer's 
own opinion as to the significance of his work. He 
has, indeed, now placed his detractors hors de com- 
bat by the strength of his own genius. No choral 
work of the modern British school, save the Dream 
of Gerontius, can equal what has been already 
accomplished of this trilogy. No opera by an 
English musician is, in any way, comparable to it. 
In fact, one might go farther and say that no finer 
work for the stage has been written since Wagner 
penned his Parsifal. 

The influence of that great master is felt here, as 
it is in most modern operas, but, at the same time, 
there is a distinct Holbrookean spirit about the 
music with which Wagner has nothing to do. In 
the use of the leit-motif system and in the broad 
mental sweep over a vast subject, the two composers 
meet on common ground, and, if Holbrooke has 
failed to quite reach the emotional depths of the 
Wagnerian dramas, he has, at least, eradicated 
many defects to which his predecessor was prone, 
such, for instance, as the long and often tedious 
yarns in which the vocalists are made to indulge, 
and the intrusion of an over-elaborate symbolism. 

In The Children of Don, as in the later Wag- 


nerian operas, there is very little choral writing. In 
Dylan, however, it forms a prominent feature. Hol- 
brooke endeavours to get as many contrasts in his 
music as possible, and, in the latter work, the use 
of the chorus helps his aim considerably. As an 
orchestral writer, we have seen proofs of his mar- 
vellous ingenuity in the poems, and his operas are 
no less pictorially vivid than the earlier creations. 
No modern composer handles the orchestra with 
greater ease than he, and when this is combined 
with equal powers of thematic invention, a sensitive 
and particularly modern feeling for harmonisation, 
a strong dramatic bias and fine powers of synthesis, 
we have the chief qualities that go towards the 
making of a great writer for the stage. 

The subject of the trilogy is one after the com- 
poser's own heart weird, lurid, and full of 
elemental emotion and passion. It is based upon 
certain striking incidents, taken from various 
ancient Cymric legends, combined with some super- 
added ideas. The Mabinogion has been largely 
drawn upon for material, and more particularly the 
fables of Branwen, the Daughter of Llyr, and Math, 
the Son of Mathonivy, but neither of these has been 
followed in its entirety. Instead, an unification of 
different legends has been essayed in which certain 
features of the original subject matter have been 
brought into prominence whilst other features have 
been passed over altogether. Thus, in the operatic 
version, the story of Elan, or Arianrod, varies con- 
siderably from that contained in the ancient lore, 
many incidents having been entirely deleted, whilst 


considerable amplification is shown in other direc- 
tions ; all the happenings of the opera, too, are made 
to centre around a magic cauldron, but, in the 
Welsh legends, this object plays quite an ancillary 
part. Still, some connecting link between the 
different parts of the trilogy was necessary to lend 
it unity, and the cauldron has much the same 
significance here that the " ring " has in Wagner's 

The origin of these Cymric stories is very remote, 
and their nucleus is doubtless to be sought in the 
ancient mythology of the Celt. Naturally, the form 
in which we know them is largely coloured by the 
thoughts and customs of the age in which they were 
first written down, but, at the same time, certain 
of the incidents that they contain are common with 
those of the earliest Celtic literature, and are of a 
decidedly archaic derivation. The author of this 
operatic trilogy has recognised this fact when mar- 
shalling the various fables and myths for the pur- 
poses of his drama. He places the action back in 
the dim, prehistoric ages, when thaumaturgy 
appears a natural gift, and in which the gods are 
brought into contact with mankind, and in which 
super-human deeds are accomplished. Life is 
rough, rugged and violent, and follows a pre- 
destined course, and the elemental laws of nature 
are uncurbed by a disturbing civilisation. Wag- 
ner's Der Ring des Nibelungen was distinguished 
by the same qualities, though that work dealt with 
Teutonic instead of Celtic myths, and was more 
concerned with the conduct of the Gods than is The 


Cauldron of Anivyn. The two works, however, 
have many similarities of scope. 

Both The Children of Don and Dylan show signs 
of thoughtful literary construction and a broad 
understanding of the spirit of Welsh letters. Their 
various incidents have been carefully selected and 
well wielded together to form a consistent story, and 
a fine poetical gift is evidenced throughout. In 
places there is a certain vagueness and lack of 
cohesion about the verses, but, generally, the diction 
of the poem is good, whilst it is rugged and force- 
ful as the rather barbarous nature of its subject 

The Children of Don consists of a prologue in 
two parts and three acts, of which the third is 
divided into two scenes. Its story is as follows : 

Arawn, the King of Anwyn (Hell) is about to 
perform a sacrifice of a young virgin to the goddess, 
Caridwen, whose magic cauldron is its greatest 
treasure. This cauldron stands upon an altar in a 
cavern looking out over a field of ice that represents 
the underworld. It contains the sources of inspira- 
tion and desire " whose breath is madness and 
whose taste is doom." It must also be "virgin- 
tended, sacred from all who have at heart seeds of 
desire." Gwydion, the son of Don, arrives at the 
cavern with the object of filching the cauldron, and 
a deadly conflict ensues between him and its 
attendant priests. In the end, Gwydion is vic- 
torious, and slays, not only the priests, but Arawn 
as well. He then seizes the cauldron and departs. 

After this, we find ourselves on a wild and rocky 


island in the northern seas. All that is visible is 
desolate and ice-bound. Wild clouds are driving 
across the sky, whilst snow-storms now and then 
blot out the scene. The nature-goddess, Don 
(Thea), appears, and calls on the Sea-King, Lyd 
(Oceanus), another divinity of the old Titan 
dynasty, to prevent Gwydion from carrying away 
the cauldron, the link between humanity and them- 
selves, from its stronghold. Lyd thereupon in- 
vokes the decision of the prisoned god, Nodeus 
(Chronos), the head of the fallen Titans, who has 
been condemned to eternal sleep. Nodeus, though 
sleeping, can still dream, however, and voices his 
dreams aloud in certain cryptic utterances, the 
result of which is to make Lyd refuse to interfere 
with Gwydion. 

At this point the prologue ends, and the first act 
opens with a chorus of Druids in a forest of Arvon 
(Carnarvon). They have come to instal the 
cauldron, which has been taken from Gwydion, in 
a temple of Math, the priest king and magician. 
This Math is a brother of Gwydion 's mother, Don, 
and Gwydion greatly resents the capture of the 
cauldron. Among the Druids we encounter the 
fanatical Gwion, and he and Math give Gwydion 
the task of guarding the sacred vessel and its vestal 
virgins from intrusion, and warn him of the dire 
results that will ensue if he fails in his office. Mean- 
while, Goewin, a maiden of the cauldron, has 
become infected with its atmosphere, and has 
yielded to the love of Govannion, a half-brother of 
Gwydion. This is discovered by Elan (or Arian- 


rod), the half-sister of Gwydion, who suddenly 
appears and interrupts one of their stolen meetings. 
During this scene, Elan discloses the fact that she 
is born to be the mother of one of the greatest heroes 
of Britain. Soon Gwydion, too, arrives, but 
eventually decides not to betray Govannion's love. 
Gwydion and Elan are then left alone, and the latter 
begs the former to become her husband, but he, 
whilst acknowledging the honour that she has done 
him, rejects her offer. 

The scene of the second act is the temple con- 
taining an altar upon which the sacred cauldron 
reposes. Goewin is discovered praying for the 
recovery of her lost innocence, and her prayer is 
interrupted by Govannion, who enters to chide her 
for her lack of love for him. Then Gwydion 
appears, and warns both of them to depart. After 
some railing at Gwydion, Govannion repudiates 
Goewin and goes off, whilst Gwydion vainly urges 
Goewin to forget her passion. Math then enters 
and Goewin confesses to him that she is no longer 
a maid, and that Govannion was her lover. There- 
upon, Math banishes her, and proceeds to reproach 
Gwydion for his treachery in failing to guard the 
cauldron. Backed by Gwion, he sentences him to 
transformation into beast-shape, though he ex- 
presses his sorrow at the fate that compels him to 
this deed. Gwydion is bound by the Druids to a 
pointed stone near the altar and then left alone. 
After a short time, Elan enters and sympathises 
with him. He tells her of the horrible fate that 
he must suffer, and then thinks of the cauldron as 


a means of release. He asks Elan if she has 
strength to perform the sacrilege of filling a horn 
with the poison that it contains. She answers by 
doing so, and, with the intention of poisoning them- 
selves, they drink the magic potion. Suddenly, 
Elan crouches down in a listening attitude, and 
the voice of Lyd, the Sea-King, is heard calling 
from the sea. Irresistibly, she is drawn by 
some strange magnetism towards the spot from 
whence the voice proceeds, and Gwydion is again 
left alone. Not for long however, for soon the 
spectral form of Arawn and other demons of hell 
arise to taunt him and to threaten him with coming 
torture. His courage does not fail him, however. 

"'Nor death nor change shall my straight soul impair 
And I shall fend you in eternal war " 

he sings and then calls on Nodeus, at whose 
appearance the phantom shapes disappear. Nodeus 
again indulges in some further cryptic utterances 
regarding the great destiny that is in store for the 
land, and disappears. Then Math's spell begins 
to work on Gwydion. Darkness falls, and when it 
lifts again, Gwydion 's bonds are seen empty. 
The gloom of the background is set with red eyes 
of wolves, and one grim form comes from behind 
the stone to which Gwydion was bound and slinks 
across the stage. Later, we learn that Govannion 
has shared the same fate with Gwydion. This 
" wolf " idea was borrowed from The Mabinogion, 
though, there, the transformation was threefold, 
from men to deer, wild swine, and wolves in turn. 


The first scene of Act III. is the same as that of 
Act I., and three years have elapsed since the 
horror-haunting events with which the preceding 
act closed. The wolves enter and prowl restlessly 
about the stage, but as the song of the Druids 
is heard in the distance, they gather together and 
depart. Then Gwion appears, to be followed a 
little later by Goewin, who comes begging for resti- 
tution among her own people. Gwion only abuses 
her, however, and sends her out to the wolves, 
where she is devoured by Govannion. Math enters 
and reproaches Gwion for his cruelty, and, in spite 
of Gwion 's protests, repeals the spell upon Gwydion 
and Govannion. These two then appear worn and 
emaciated, with wolves' heads for helmets and 
wolves' pelts for clothing. Govannion slips away 
into the shadow of the trees, but Gwydion advances 
and addresses Math wildly and hoarsely. Math 
tells him that he has stolen a maiden soul from the 
services divine, and that he must find a substitute 
for Goewin before he can obtain complete freedom 
and be made whole. They depart upon this quest, 
leaving Gwion alone to meditate upon the deadly 
influence of the cauldron stolen from hell. 

The second scene is a rocky sea-shore. Elan is 
discovered sitting on a rock alone mourning the 
fate of the children of Don, and dreaming of the 
beauty of her sea-lover whose voice had called her 
to him. Govannion appears to her, full of horror 
for the death of Goewin, and full of anger with 
Gwydion for making friends with Math again. He 
tells her that Gwydion has chosen her as a sub- 


stitute for Goewin as a virgin attendant of the sacred 
cauldron, and she expresses her readiness to accept 
that service. Then Math and Gwydion arrive, and 
the latter explains their errand to her. Math 
demands a proof of her virginity, and puts her to 
the test. He draws a line on the ground between 
himself and Elan, and bids her cross it. She hesi- 
tates, and then advances to overstep the line. As she 
reaches it she recoils, and besides her then springs 
up the figure of a small boy, Dylan, the son of her- 
self and iLyd, the Sea-King. She takes him in her 
arms and sinks down ashamed. Math, thinking 
Dylan to be Gwydion's son, is infuriated, and 
curses the children of Don, and is about to use his 
magic when Gwydion, with hostile intent, advances 
against him. Math calls up his attendant spirits, 
but, in spite of this, is transfixed by Gwydion's 
spear. He falls, and Elan becomes unconscious. 
Govannion enters, and, taking Dylan from Elan's 
arms, flings him into the sea, which, however, as 
a son of Lyd, cannot harm him. He then drags 
Elan away, and Gwydion is left watching Math. 
The latter revives for a short space to tell Gwydion 
that much grief awaits him, and then dies. A little 
later, Dylan climbs out of the sea to the rocks. 
Gwydion prophecies great things of him, and is 
then interrupted by Govannion, who reviles 
Gwydion for having anything to do with the bastard 
of their race. Further heated words follow, and 
they proceed to blows. Then Gwion and the 
Druids enter, to discover the body of Math, and, 
forthwith, they curse Gwydion. He no longer has 


any fear of them, however, and points out Gwion 
to Govannion as the cruel fanatic who drove Goewin 
to the wolves. Govannion rushes on Gwion and 
kills him, whilst the Druids shrink away cowed. 
Gwydion then bids Dylan take leave of Math 
Mathonwy, " greatest of the Gaels," and then goes 
out with him, leaving the Druids grouped around 
their fallen leader, with Govannion watching them 

The music of this drama takes us back into the 
primal heart of things, and, whilst having the iron 
strength of old Greek tragedy, never loses the spirit 
of romance. It has the vitality that only belongs 
to the great things of art, and the composer's 
imaginative grasp of the various phases of his sub- 
ject is sure and wide-embracing. 

This opera and the second one of the trilogy 
Dylan have a Shakespearean breadth of conception 
and a Homeric sense of pulsating action. Occa- 
sionally, it is true, the melodic interest begins to 
droop ; but, after all, what great work ever lacked 
its dull moments ? Even Wagner could not over- 
come that failing. 

In the vocal writing of both parts of the trilogy, 
the composer has endeavoured to follow as closely 
as possible the inflexions of the speaking voice. 
Vocal melody had, therefore, to be sacrificed to a 
certain extent, though there are also many fine out- 
bursts of lyrical fervour for the soloists during the 
progress of the work. When this method of 
writing, however, becomes inappropriate, by reason 
of the more dramatic exigencies of the situation, the 


melodic interest is maintained by the orchestra in 
a manner that is full of illuminating suggestion. 

The music is dramatic in the best sense of the 
term, with none of that melodramatic extravagance 
that mars so many stage dramas. The composer's 
great gift of sane visualisation is nowhere better 
evidenced than it is in the music of these first two 
operas of this trilogy. He sees his picture clearly, 
and he sees it whole. The great issues of his sub- 
ject have been grasped by him in their complete- 
ness, and he has created unforgettable works of 
real vital dramatic strength and of eloquent, magical 
beauty. By reason of the nature of the incidents 
upon which the drama is founded, the music is 
generally of a gloomy and sombre character, but it 
is no petty tragedy with which it brings us into con- 
tact, but a tragedy of super-eminent and noble 
dignity. Though the general tone of the music is 
fatalistic, it has many definite contrasts of atmos- 
pheric and pictorial suggestion to show. Thus, in 
The Children of Don, the gloomy remoteness of 
the frost-bound region of Anwyn, the playful toss- 
ing of the sea-waves on the shore, the grisly horror 
of the famished wolf-pack, and the satanic ferocity 
of the demons that taunt Gwydion, are figured in 
wonderful music that has no parallel save in that of 
some of the Wagner and Strauss operas, and in that 
of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande. 

The music, too, that is woven around the doings 
of the various protagonists of the drama shows 
much sense of psychological fitness. Arawn plays 
only a small part in the drama, but the music 


allotted to him well defines the solemnity and the 
sinister quality of his state as ruler of the under- 
world. The music of Don is not particularly 
striking, but her appearance in the drama is only 
of ephemeral interest. That of Nodeus, however, 
is much better, and excellently reflects his aloofness 
from active endeavour. Gwydion is definitely and 
excellently characterised in the music. The leading 
theme with which he is associated shows him as a 
man of considerable resolve, but with certain 
idealistic strains in his nature, and with the capacity 
for strong and generous affections. In every situa- 
tion in which he is placed, he remains one of the 
most subtly-conceived characters of the drama. 
The music of Govannion, both here and in Dylan, 
is good and extremely interesting, but, psycho- 
logically, it is rather bewildering. He is shown 
in the script as a man of sullen temper, of strong 
hates and of hot jealousies ; ready to love fiercely for 
a time, but ready also, on an impulse, to reject the 
maiden of his choice ; watchful on behalf of his 
sister's honour, but careless with regard to that of 
himself and others ; a morbid dreamer of vengeance, 
and the perpetrator of a cold-blooded murder. Yet 
the music that surrounds him rarely depicts him as 
impulsive and unregulated in character, and the 
leading theme that attaches to him hints at much 
softer moods than his actions go to show. The 
character of Math is much more convincingly por- 
trayed by the music, which makes us feel that all 
his impulses are of a higher and more generous 
nature than those of the milieu in which he exists. 


Fate alone and the requirements of his age compel 
him to act harshly, and he remains a stately and 
appealing figure throughout. The music of Elan, 
too, both here and in Dylan, is beautifully con- 
ceived. In spite of her liaison with Lyd, to which 
Fate condemns her, she is pictured as a pure, 
tender, self-sacrificing woman, ever ready with her 
sympathy, and more sinned against than sinning. 
Never, for one moment, does she descend into the 
weakly sentimental. Something of dignity always 
attaches to her, and leaves behind it the impression 
that the nemesis that eventually she has to suffer is 
much too heavy for the nature of her offence. 
Goewin is the maiden in whom the magical proper- 
ties of the cauldron rouses hot desires, and the music 
that depicts her passion is much better framed than 
that which, later, depicts her remorse. The char- 
acter of Lyd, the Sea-King, is merely sketched in 
The Children of Don, but, in the next opera of the 
trilogy, he becomes the dominant figure. 

The vocal parts of this first drama are divided as 
follows : Sopranos (Don and Goewin), Contralto 
(Elan), Tenors (First Priest, Arawn, Gwion, First 
and Second Demons), Baritones (Gwydion and 
Math), Basses (Sea-King, Govannion, Second 
Priest and Nodeus). The themes of the work are 
striking and original, and the score is one of great 

Of the many motifs that the opera contains, that 
representative of the character of Gwydion is of 
great importance 




The theme that distinguishes the personality of 
Govannion has already been referred to, and it 
becomes of still greater importance in the second 
part of the trilogy, Dylan. It is as follows : 


Math, with his primitive religion, his sad king- 
ship, and his gift of prophecy, is defined in the next 
quoted theme 



Another theme expresses the mystery that sur- 
rounds Dylan 



and this theme also becomes much more significant 
in the second part of the trilogy. 

The theme that attaches to Nodeus has also con- 
siderable importance in the drama, and typifies 
aloofness from all mortal concerns 


Goewin and her passion is represented by the 

A > 



The malignant fanaticism of Gwion is depicted 
by a little downward leaping one-bar motif, whilst 
a stern theme defines the hopeless and stultified 
idolatry of the Druids. 

Then there is the " cauldron " theme 

1m & -5 

Also the theme associated with the terrors of the 

And, lastly, a very important theme that typifies 
the general elemental nature of the work, and the 
stormy, restless character of it all 




The prologue of this opera is preceded by a 
masterly overture, headed with the lines 

" Summoned are we from the lonely lairs 

Where the storms are born. 
Haled from the void that silence shares 
Where the pits of darkness yawn." 

and based upon some of the most important themes 
of the opera, the leading character being one 
of turbulency, representative of wild, elemental 
strife and of the agony at the soul of human things. 
The first scene of this prologue is a fine concep- 


tion full of real dramatic grip, and of intellectual 
strength. Here the "cauldron" motif and the 
" Gwydion " theme are particularly prominent, 
whilst the themes descriptive of the terrors of the 
underworld and of the elemental nature of the work 
also play an important part. The second part of 
the prologue is less interesting, and the music of 
Don is rather dull, and the Goddess is generally 
rather a vague and unsatisfactory personage both 
histrionically and musically. The Sea-King's 
music is much more individual, whilst that of 
Nodeus is beautiful throughout, and has that remote 
placidity that the picture requires without sacrific- 
ing any of its limpid beauty. He has a long solo, 
based chiefly upon his own theme, which is utilised 
in a manner that is full of wonderful variety. Later, 
at the lines for the Sea-King 

" Man shall hear our many voices growing clear 
And stung to new ideas austere, 
Shall feel the heavens ring with trumpets vast 
Calling to battle all the powers outcast," 

we reach one of those lyrical outbursts in which, as 
it has already been mentioned, this work is particu- 
larly rich. 

An intermezzo separates the prologue from the 
first act. The austere strains of the Druid's 
choruses, with which this act opens, well define their 
religious fanaticism, whilst the ensuing scene for 
Gwydion, Math and Gwion, though good, calls for 
no special mention. With the entrance of Govan- 


nion and Goewin, however, we have a duet that 
is one of the lyrical gems of the opera. 

Rarely has the enchantment of night in awaken- 
ing the soul to love been more exquisitely painted. 
The music is rich with an idyllic beauty of phrase, 
and, as the ardent strains rise and fall in the midst 
of this forest silence, one realises how faultlessly 
the emotional mood of the hour has been caught. 
The later duet between Gwydion and Elan is 
another passage of fragrant loveliness, in which the 
deeply tender woman-nature of Elan is reflected in 
cogent and eloquent musical phraseology. 

In the second act there is a beautiful solo for 
Goewin, in which the soaring arpeggio figures in 
the orchestra define the yearning of her soul for 
the return of her maiden innocence. The scene 
between Gwydion, Goewin, Math and Gwion also 
has some fine emotional moments. Math's anger 
and sorrow over Gwydion 's defection are also well 
portrayed. The potion-drinking scene is dramati- 
cally and convincingly handled, and is followed by 
some "wild fowl" music (quoted later in dis- 
cussing the opera Dylan) and by the voice of 
the Sea-King heard softly in the distance above 
a pedal bass note only. The appearance of the 
demons to Gwydion after Elan has left him is asso- 
ciated with some of the most remarkable and power- 
ful music of the opera. This has a macabre-\ike 
gruesomeness, and finds its closest analogy in 
Wagner's " Ride of the Valkyries." The theme 
representative of the terrors of the underworld 
naturally comes in for some extensive working 


here, and a magnificent scene is built up, dramatic, 
fierce and wild. A little later, the noble, dignified 
" Nodeus " theme returns in effective contrast, till 
it is ousted by the furious music that accompanies 
the appearance of the wolves on the scene, and the 
end of the act is one of blood-curdling horror. 

The third and last act preserves a high level 
almost throughout, and the interest is more 
uniformly maintained than it is in any of the pre- 
ceding portions of the opera. It contains passages 
of supreme aesthetic beauty and pictures of the 
most vivid and graphic power. The barbaric 
nature of the scene between Gwion and Goewin is 
excellently conceived, and here the theme illustra- 
tive of the elemental nature of the work becomes 
prominent. Math's words of pity for the ill-fated 
maiden are accompanied by a lyrical passage of 
much beauty, whilst his reply to Gwion, commenc- 
ing " There is a singing in my soul," is combined 
with an exquisite broad-phrase melody from the 
orchestra, representative of the underlying tender- 
ness in Math's nature, which forms a graphic con- 
trast to the stern music allotted to Gwion. All 
through this scene, indeed, the psychological 
interest of the drama is magnificently sustained in 
the music. The recalling of Gwydion and Govan- 
nion to human shape has a supreme dramatic 
intensity that it would be hard to forget. 

The second scene of the act opens to the sound 
of great sea-music, which, in its beautiful atmos- 
pheric suggestiveness, has the same effect on the 
senses as certain fine pages in the sea romances of 



Joseph Conrad have. It is followed by an exquisite 
solo for Elan. \Here the harmonisation is free but 
of extreme delicacy. The passage in which she 
sings of the fairness of her spirit of the sea is one 
of unsurpassable beauty, pregnant with the purest 
and deepest emotion. The testing of Elan is also 
dramatically powerful and convincing. With the 
death of Math we have a noble funeral march, the 
theme of which is borrowed from an old Welsh 
song, and is as follows : 


The opera closes with strenuous passages indica- 
tive of the elemental nature of the subject, whilst 
the sinister theme always associated with the 
cauldron booms out its portentous warning of 
further strife to come. 

Dylan deals with further developments of the 
story twenty years later. Here is represented the 
conflict between Earth and Sea and the struggle 
of the two for supremacy. The unfortunate Elan 
has become a guest at the castle of Gwyddno, King 
of Ceredigion, a tributary of Gwydion. She is 
unaware of the adoption of her son, Dylan, by 
Gwydion, and believes that he has been slain by 
him and Govannion at the time of the death of 
Math. When, therefore, in the first scene of the 
first act, Dylan himself appears before her as a 
minstrel, she fails to recognise him, and he leaves 
her to wander away to the sea, irresistibly drawn 
thither by the call of the blood. Then Govannion, 
who, together with his hated brother, Gwydion, is 
encamped with an army near Gwyddno's castle, 
enters and meets Elan after a long separation and 
speaks a few mocking words to her regarding her 
chastity, and then departs to follow Dylan and 
revenge upon him Elan's shame. As soon as he 
has gone, Gwydion arrives and informs Elan that 
the minstrel with whom she has recently been con- 
versing is her own son. She is thrown into a state 
of wild agitation, but tells Gwydion that he will 
soon return, for Govannion has followed him. On 
learning this fact, Gwydion begins to fear the 


The second scene of the act takes us to the sea- 
shore, whither Dylan has wandered. Govannion 
overtakes him here, and, after listening unobserved 
to his address to the God of the Seas, he drives his 
spear between the minstrel's shoulders. The dying 
Dylan calls upon the sea-fowl to bear the tidings 
of his death to the ear of the Sea-King, and away 
they fly with their sorrowful burden. 

In the second act, we see the Sea-King seated, in 
gloomy dejection, in his watery kingdom. As he 
sits there, the sound of the wild-fowl chorus is 
heard off, as these messengers of evil approach 
nearer and nearer. This introduction of the wild- 
fowl, as a chorus, was doubtlessly suggested by 
Aristophanes' comedy of The Birds, for it finds no 
place in the Cymric legends. The woeful tidings 
of Dylan's tragic death are communicated by them 
to his despondent father, who instantly rouses him- 
self to action, calling upon his armies of wind and 
wave to accoutre him. 

The first scene of the third act introduces us to 
a room in the sea-tower of Seithenin, the lord and 
guard of the dykes and sluices of the kingdom 
where Gwyddno is king. Here Govannion has 
taken refuge, and here he and Seithenin sit carous- 
ing. From outside, the voices of the chorus, 
attendant on the Sea-King, are heard approaching, 
and Govannion is moody and downcast. Finally, 
he quits the room, leaving Seithenin behind him 
in drunken slumber. 

The second scene takes us to a sea-dyke whither 
Govannion has wandered. He stands watching 


the battle of the elements. To the fury of the winds 
and waves, the lightning adds its fierce flashes, 
whilst the thunder increases the clamour with its 
threatening rumblings. The voice of the Sea-King 
from the distance reaches Govannion, and he is 
horror-stricken. Rushing down the embankment, 
he disappears, whilst the Sea-King appears on the 
embankment to spur on his attendant hosts of wind 
and wave to destructive action. Finally, a great 
piece of the embankment gives way. 

The last scene reveals the battlements of 
Gwyddno's castle, and here Govannion comes 
begging for admission and for protection against 
the encroaching waves. The Sea-King, however, 
appears on the wall beside Gwyddno and renders 
him powerless to help his supplicant. The waves 
continue to advance until Govannion is finally 
engulfed by them at the foot of the castle walls, 
whilst the Sea-King looks down mockingly on him 
from above. Then that potentate surveys his work 
of destruction, and moralises upon its insignificance 
when considered as merely one of the cyclic hap- 
penings of the universe, doomed to be repeated time 
after time, whilst he also touches upon the idea of 
metempsychosis, a doctrine to be more fully 
exploited in the last opera of the triology, Bronwen. 

A wild, fierce subject indeed ! There is some- 
thing in it that calls up memories of the great deeds 
that the Greek and Scandinavian mythologies have 
handed down to us; a grandeur of idea that is 
almost epic in conception. To define in music the 
great forces of nature thus at conflict was not an 


easy task ; yet the composer's fine gift of imagina- 
tion has enabled him to do what no other English 
composer could have done so successfully, and 
Dylan is, in many respects, even superior to The 
Children of Don. 

The character of Gwyddno is not particularly 
well limned in the music, but then, after all, he is 
only a sketch in the book. Gwydion, too, plays 
quite a minor part here, but his character is as 
lucidly defined as in The Children of Don. The 
music of Elan in Dylan, though of small extent, is 
tender and womanly, as it was in the preceding 
opera, and we are again moved by the spell of her 
gentleness and of her lovableness. The music 
that is woven around the figure of Dylan, too, 
shows a fine power of visualisation in the composer ; 
it is mystic, and seems to suggest the coming 
tragedy, whilst the superhuman nature of this being 
who gives the title to the drama is subtly delineated. 
Govannion, as defined in the music, continues to be 
even more bewildering than he was in the music 
that depicted the earlier adventures of his life, 
though, apart from its psychological import, it still 
remains extremely interesting. The character of 
the wine-bibbing Seithenin, though, stands out 
clear and unblurred. He is just a careless, royster- 
ing and rather coarse individual, and the music 
attaching to him makes a fine contrast to that of 
the other individuals with whom he is associated. 
It is in the music of the Sea-King, however, that 
the supreme merit of Dylan lies. He dominates the 
whole situation, as he should do. Holbrooke 



attempted to represent in music a character of some- 
what similar ruggedness in one of his early poems, 
The Viking, but the music illustrative of the cor- 
sair's nature and actions is tame beside that which 
depicts the Sea-King, and the composer has given 
us, here, a piece of vivid psychology. As Hol- 
brooke realises his kingly hero, he is a being, rough 
and uncouth and of extreme virility ; his power lies 
in his determination and in his brute force, and 
nothing can resist the strength of his arm or the 
might of his resolve. The seas obey him and the 
earth shakes beneath his tread; the dread of his 
presence is as great as was that of Jove the 

Many of the themes that were found in The 
Children of Don are utilised in Dylan, either in the 
same or a slightly changed form, so that the unity 
of the cycle is preserved. 

Amongst the new leading themes, one of the 
most important is that which is associated with the 
death of Dylan, and also, generally, with " the 



The character of Seithenin is represented by the 
following bold theme 

The "Sea-King" subject is characteristically 
forceful and rugged 

Besides these themes, appertaining to the leading 
characters of the drama, we have a few others of 
great importance. Thus, the "wave" motif, 
next quoted, is a variant of a " wave " motif that 
appeared in The Children of Don 



and it is made to play one of the chief parts in the 
development of the story; whilst the weird " wild- 
fowl*' theme, which had also previously made its 
appearance in The Children of Don 

is even more important, and is to be found, either 
m its original form or in some of its metamor- 


phoses, constantly throughout the score. This 
music alone would make the reputation of Hol- 
brooke secure. 

These are the chief themes of the opera, and their 
plastic nature is evidenced by the number of 
changes that they are made to undergo in the 
drama, and by the fine dramatic scenes that are 
worked up out of the material that they supply. 

The drama is written for three baritones (Dylan, 
Seithenin and Gwydion), two bassos (Govannion 
and the Sea-King), one tenor (Gwyddno), one con- 
tralto (Elan), and a chorus of sea-folk, waves and 
wild-fowl. The opera opens with a short overture. 
There is, however, a very elaborate " Prelude," for 
Grand Orchestra, on the Dylan themes for the con- 
cert room. 

The full form of the " Govannion " theme p. 
2 53 (No. 2) is first encountered in Dylan, when 
that character recalls the time when he and 
Gwydion were beneath Math's enchantment 

*' Since through the wasted lands we ran 
In flesh of wolves beneath Math's ban " 

As he continues his recital, modified forms of this 
theme are constantly heard in the lower part of the 
accompanying harmony. Shortly afterwards, 
Dylan appears upon the scene, and, with his 
entrance, we begin to get a grip of things, and to 
enter upon some of the most sensitively beautiful 
music of the opera. 

In the second scene, we find ourself at night upon 
the sea-shore, and the motif descriptive of the gently 


lapping waves p. 267 (No. i) is softly heard in tjie 
orchestra. The effect of this so rich in atmos- 
pheric suggestion is entrancingly lovely, and, 
nowhere in this opera are the fine musical gifts of 
the composer better evidenced than in the greater 
part of this scene. Few operas can show the same 
picturesque vividness, and this sea-music leaves 
behind it a memory that is ineffaceable. Among 
these desolate surroundings, Dylan comes wander- 
ing, singing in speech-like recitative of the wonders 
of the sea, during which the lulling murmur of the 
rise and fall of its waters continues to be heard in 
the orchestra. In the ensuing scene for Dylan and 
Govannion, the latter personage becomes rather 
unconvincing and tedious, the whole interest here 
centring in the leading character. 

The music in which the dying Dylan asks who 
has struck him down is most exquisitely conceived, 
the monotonous figure in the orchestra being 
graphically suggestive of his ebbing strength. 

Later, when Govannion describes the seduction 
of his sister by the Sea-King, he does so in music 
whose ideas are largely borrowed from the same 

As the soul of Dylan drifts out into the Silence, 
the themes of p. 265 and p. 254 (No. i) again spring 
up in the orchestra. Away fly the sea-fowl to bear 
the tidings of the cruel murder to the Sea-King's 
ears, whilst the " death " theme is again thundered 
out as if to betoken the portentous import of the 
demise of such a hero, the new harmonies with 
which it is here surrounded making it peculiarly 


poignant in its expression. It is heard, too, in the 
following chorus for sea-fowl, in conjunction with 
some of the other subjects. This is a magnificent 
piece of writing that has few parallels in music. It 
is full of weird, breathless emotion, and, towards 
the end, becomes furious in its tones of vociferous 
and frenzied horror. Finally, the " wave " motif 
is introduced to denote the passage of the excited, 
clamorous birds across the ocean, and, with a few 
impressive chords, this act is brought to a close. 

The second act is preceded by a picturesquely- 
written introduction. When, later, the bereaved 
Sea-King is seen seated on his throne of rough 
stone, the music is sombre and gloomy, though 
interrupted at times by suggestions of the approach 
of the wild-fowl, and the effect is like that of a 
calm that often precedes a thunderstorm. As 
Lyd dreams of his love for Elan, we hear in the 
instrumental part a modified form of the same 
beautiful theme that the thought of Elan had pre- 
viously conjured up to Govannion in the first act. 
During this part of the music, the upper part of the 
scene becomes more lurid, and then, across the 
stormy light pass the wild-fowl, as though flying 
low across the surface of the sea. Their flight is 
accompanied by an instrumental passage built up 
entirely out of the finely-conceived theme of p. 267 
(No. 2). It is followed, a little later, by a short 
chorus for the sea-folk, who demand where Dylan 
is. The reply is given by the wild-fowl 

"Dead is Dylan, dead is Dylan!" 


and the emotion is one of overwhelming sorrow, the 
manner in which the word " Dead ! " is reiterated 
being particularly terrible in its despairing pathos. 

The chorus is in eight parts, and is a fine piece 
of contrapuntal construction, remarkable not only 
for its cleverness, but for the beauty and dramatic 
quality of its thematic material. During the course 
of it, the "Dylan" theme of p. 254 (No. i) con- 
stantly thrusts itself forward with fine suggestive 
effect. It becomes particularly prominent during 
the adagio solenne, when the divided sopranos and 
contraltos address the Sea-King alone. It is also 
heard a little later, in both the orchestral and voice 
parts, when the tenors and basses proceed to 
describe their journey to the Sea-King's realm, 
without the support of either soprano or contralto 
voices. Towards the end, the Wild Fowl motif of 
p. 267 (No. 2) becomes gradually more and more 
assertive in the orchestra, whilst the vocal writing 
is sometimes divided into ten parts. 

The great Sea-King song, in which the monarch 
rouses himself from meditation to vengeful action, 
at the end of Act 2, is another powerful number. 

The first scene of the third act shows us a room 
in Seithenin's tower, whither Govannion has fled. 
Both men are seated at a table with drinking 
vessels, but, whereas Seithenin finds pleasure in 
jovial carousals, Govannion is full of gloomy fears. 
The melody sung by Seithenin after the rising of 
the curtain is based upon the theme of p. 266 (No. 
i), and is full of careless jollity. But Govannion 
only replies in gloomy accents. Their converse is 



interrupted by the distant voices of the chorus 
chanting that Dylan is dead. A fine effect ! Then 
Seithenin falls asleep, and Govannion goes out. 

Later, in this great act, Govannion staggers to 
the foot of the walls of Gwyddno 's castle, whilst the 
Sea-King and Gwyddno appear above side by side. 
Govannion, in desperation, begs that the gates may 
be opened to him, but the Sea-King is adamant, 
whilst the ruthless theme of p. 266 (No. 2) urges 
itself upon the notice to emphasise the relentless- 
ness of his words. Later, a fine, bold theme in the 
orchestra further illustrates the unswerving nature 
of his vengeance. Govannion then appeals to 
Gwyddno, and the music is full of intense dramatic 
power. Finally, Govannion is swallowed up by 
the waves, and, in the music descriptive of this, the 
reappearance of a modified version of the theme of 
p. 254 (No. i) reminds us that Dylan has been 
avenged. Throughout the whole of this act, the 
music has a dramatic force that is truly wonderful, 
and, at moments, attains a real epic grandeur of 

As it will be seen, the feminine interest in this 
portion of the trilogy is small. Only Elan's music 
and the music that relates to her history approach 
to any form of tenderness. The remainder is 
chiefly concerned with rough, primitive action. 
This may possibly prove a deterrent to it becoming 
a " popular " work for the stage, but it is to be 
hoped that these fears may not be realised. The 
drama has a grandeur all its own in the magical way 
in which the mystery of the sea and of its ruler is 


built up. It is a masculine work a work depicting 
the characteristics of a race of beings for whom the 
word "civilisation" has no meaning. Bar- 
barous, rugged and uncouth, it is ; but it is also a 
conception of great intellectual strength and of 
striking originality. Moreover, it is a work of 
grand and noble nature, such as could only have 
proceeded from a brain of vivid imaginative powers 
and to say the last word of genius. 

The third part of this trilogy, " Bronwen," 
which is now nearly complete,* deals with the later 
happenings to the famous cauldron, and the theory 
of metempsychosis, as previously mentioned, has 
^o be accepted to explain the closeness of its con- 
nection with the earlier parts of the drama. None 
of the original characters of The Children of Don 
and Dylan are to be found in Bronwen, but the 
personages introduced are reincarnations of the 
previous characters. The main incidents are taken 
from The Mabinogion Brangwyn, the daughter 
of Lyr, and the interest centres round the marriage 
of Bronwen (Elan), the sister of Bran (Math), King 
of Britain, to Matholoc (a new character), King of 
Ireland. Evnissyen (Govannion), the half-brother 
of Bran, loves Bronwen, however, whilst she, in 
turn, loves Caradoc (Gwydion), who receives her 
attentions coldly. Evnissyen is angry at Matho- 
loc's application for Bronwen's hand, whilst he 
also becomes embroiled with Caradoc. Bronwen, 
however, decides to marry Matholoc, and Bran 
promises to make him a gift of the cauldron of 

* Since completed. 


Anwyn. To this suggestion, Evnissyen, Caradoc 
and Taliessin (Gwion), a bard, are hostilely averse. 
They are over-ruled by Bran, however, and the 
cauldron becomes the property of the married pair, 
who then depart for Ireland. Of this marriage, 
Gwern (Dylan) is born. Certain of the kings of 
Ireland, and especially Cormac (Arawn), eventually 
consider their country insulted by this match of 
Matholoc's, and Bronwen, at length, decides to 
leave the kingdom, and also her son behind her, 
in order to secure the safety of those whom she loves 
the dearest. This comes to the ears of Bran, and 
the latter part of the drama is given up to the com- 
plications that ensue, and, here, the maleficent in- 
fluence of the cauldron upon those who come most 
in contact with it is again exemplified. 

A few numbers from the opera have already been 
published, the most important of which is the fine 
Prelude. This is based upon the lines of Talies- 
sen's " Dawn Song " 

" The mists are melting and the distant day 
Dances with feet of flame on the pale hills. 
The streams run molten to the cold blue bay, 
And the deep forest weeps and fills 
Its path with music of dissolving dew. 

O blessed soil, the brazen clouds are lifting from 

your sleep ! 

Like heavy memories. And soon on high. 
Shall they take their radiance, and the deep 
Eternal meadow flame with glories afresh. 
So rise, all shadows, from these isles, and build 
Full bastioned splendours whence distilled 
Rains of remembrance fall upon all flesh." 


The Prelude has three main subjects, the first of 
which is marshalled in by a few introductory bars 
based upon a " call "-like motif. This first theme 
is an expressive andante in common time, softly 
played and exquisitely harmonised. It is followed 
by a molto agitato, allegro e fuoco, consisting of 
material built up out of the " wave " motif of the 
preceding operas and out of episodic matter, in 
which three descending chromatic notes figure 
largely. This then leads into the second main 
subject, a lyrical lar ghetto of much melodic appeal. 
After a couple more pages of an episodical char- 
acter, we then reach the dignified and impressive 
third subject (a Welsh folk-tune), which has already 
been quoted as having been utilised in the inci- 
dental music to Pontorewyn. The Prelude con- 
cludes with a brisk passage in which the three 
descending chromatic note motif is brought into 
much prominence. The whole work is very noble 
in feeling. 

Bronwen's "Cradle-Song," which the mother 
sings to her little son Gwern, is another little gem 
of musical fancy taken from the same opera. 

With such achievements as The Children of Don 
and Dylan before us, who is there so bold as to say 
that England is an unmusical country and that her 
people are an unimaginative race. So when 
Germany, France, Italy, Russia or Finland send 
to us the stars from out their musical firmaments, 
let us ask ourselves the question if our own 
firmaments are not as bright ; and, if we find that we 
have artists fit to honour, let us give honour where 


honour is due. But, above all, let us be honest, 
and not drift on tides of fashion ; and when genius 
is amongst us, let us not arrest its growth by 
neglecting to recognise it, but let us rather show 
our pride in it by encouraging it, to the best of our 
power, to ripen and develop. 



Quintet No. 2 Op. 27 (b) " Fate." 
Sextet No. 3 Op. 43 " Henry Vaughan." 
String Quartet No. 3 (Op. 68) " The Pickwick 

Suite for String Quartet on Folk Songs No. i 

(Op. 70. 

Suite for String Quartet on Folk Songs No. 2 

(Op. 72). 
Suite for String Quartet or Folk Songs No. 3 

(Op. 74). 

Serenade for Wind Instruments, Op. 63. 
Romantic Sonata for Violin and Piano (Op. 59). 
Opera Ballet "The Magician" (Op. 65). 
Ten Pianoforte Studies (Op. 58). 
Suite of Violin or Clarinet Pieces (Op. 55). 

IN addition to the works that have already been dis- 
cussed, there are a few others which have not, as 
yet, been published, and, of these, a short account 
should be given. 

The list includes some important chamber-works 
and an Opera Ballet of much charm, whilst there 
are also many interesting compositions of smaller 

2 7 8 


Quintet No. i (Op. 2*jb). 

This Quintet in G, for two violins, viola, 
violoncello, and A clarinet, was originally written 
for two violins, viola, violoncello, and horn, in 1901, 
but was remodelled in 1910. It is in two parts, and 
opens maestoso moderato. 

The beautiful first subject of the work is 
announced by the clarinet molto allegro below a 
tremulous movement for the violins 

frg=^ < JlVfefeJ 

The second subject appear;? marcia moderato 
allegro. The working out portion is long and 
elaborate, and contains some interesting episodical 
matter. In the recapitulation the first subject re- 
appears on the clarinet in a slightly varied and very 
effective form, whilst the second subject is appor- 
tioned between the different instruments. The 
music throughout is excellently conceived. 

The last movement of the work starts off molto 
vivace with a reiterated figure for the violins and 
viola, below which, a couple of bars later, the 'cello 
announces the first subject 



The second subject is given to the muted viola, 
accompanied by the muted violins, and is in the 
key of D major. This is then repeated by the 
clarinet and combined with effective counterpoints. 
Developments of this and of the accompanying 
counterpoints ensue, and the movement then pro- 
ceeds in logical fashion towards a Coda, which is 
built up out of previous material. The work 
generally is attractive in thematic material and 
interesting in facture. 


Sextet No. 3 Op. 43 "Henry Vaughan." 

The " Henry Vaughan " Sextet in D major, for 
two violins, two violas, and two violoncellos, was 
partly written in 1898, and was revised in 1906. It 
is pastoral in character, and derives much of its 
impulse from certain lines of the poet to whom it 
owes its title, though it is the composer's wish that 
it should be regarded as absolute music. Still, it is 
interesting to be acquainted with the verbal 
thoughts that underlie the spirit of the work, and 
the following lines from " Daphnis " help one 
much to a fuller enjoyment of the first movement 

" So thrives afflicted truth and so the light 
When put out gains a value from the night. 
How glad are we, when but one twinkling star 
Peeps betwixt clouds more black than is our tar : 

Come, shepherds, then, and with your greenest 


Refresh his dust who loved your learned lays. 
Bring here the florid glories of the Spring." 

The first movement of this Sextet opens with a 
short introduction Adagio, during which the second 
'cello is tuned down to B flat for the sake of an 
octave pedal. The theme is given to the first violin, 
and accompanied, first, by the first viola, and, later, 
by all the instruments. It is as follows : 



The notes enclosed within the bracket are of 
particular importance, as they form a sort of motto, 
and recur, in various forms, constantly during the 

The first subject of the first movement, which 
is in D major in five-four time, proceeds from 
the first violin, and is doubled, part of the way, by 
the second violin, and the remainder of the way by 
the first viola. The second 'cello is now tuned in 
the ordinary manner, and the "motto " notes re- 
appear in the new melody. 

The beautiful second subject is announced lento 
poco by the first 'cello in the key of A major 

An explanation of the significance of the second 
movement may be sought in certain other lines 
from " Daphnis." 


" Here Daphnis sleeps, and while the great watch 


Of loud and restless time takes his repose, 
Fame is but noise : all learning's but a thought : 
Nature knocks both, and wit still keeps ado; 
But Death brings knowledge and assurance too." 

This movement consists of two subjects, of which 
the first is in the key of B minor in three-eight time 
andantino molto 

r-^tfu , fr^L 

-f r ' *^- 

]/ *% 3 f-^ 


^_ 1 

ll<n H 

r I 

1 vi/ ri 





I/I. ^ , M- 

f^ J 

1 ^ 1 

1 1 1 

\\y \ 

L_ 1 

The " motto " motif t as it may be observed, is 
again responsible for generating the first three 
notes of the melody, and the music advances in this 
peaceful manner, with the lightest of scoring, until 
the second subject appears in five-four rhythm 
p oco allegro in the key of E major. 

The third and last movement is a rondo, allegro 
non troppo in D major, to which the following lines 
supply a cue 

"Cast in your garlands! strew on the flowers 
Which May, with smiles, or April feeds with 


Let this day's rites as steadfast as the sun 
Keep pace with time and through all ages run." 


The " rondo" subject, which is preceded by a 
few introductory bars, is bright and pleasing, 
whilst the second subject is in the key of A major, 
and is announced by the first violin. It is then 
given out by the first 'cello, and followed by some 
episodical matter. The whole of the movement up 
to this point is then repeated, after which the first 
'cello proceeds to formulate a fugal subject, based 
upon that of the ** rondo " subject. 

Though this Sextet has no deep emotional moods, 
it is gracious and charming throughout. There is 
an organic feeling about it that some of Holbrooke's 
chamber-music lacks, and for this, the nature of its 
derivative poem is largely responsible. The last 
movement is a little loose in places, but taken alto- 
gether, it ranks quite high among the chamber- 

*String Quartet No. 3 ( Op. 68)" The Pickwick 
Club." (A Humoresque). 

This is one of the most important, as it is also the 
most elaborate, of the chamber-works, and is 
written around certain of the characters and inci- 
dents of Dickens' novel. Many of the critics have 
professed to find it much too intricate and much 
too modern in its spirit to be a faithful reflection 
of the simple humour of the book. That, perhaps, 
is, after all, a matter of temperament ! At all 
events, as a form of argument, it carries little con- 
viction. If all music was bound to conform to a 

* This is now published by J. & W. Chester. 


style prevalent in the period of the subject generat- 
ing it, art would be strangely cramped. What 
kind of a musical setting should we have for the 
Electra of Sophocles, for Tristan or for Boris 
Godounof, for instance? 

Holbrooke, in his " Pickwick " Quartet, has sug- 
gested an earlier age than our own century by the 
introduction of some old and well-known English 
songs, whose origin, however, lies far behind the 
Pickwickian period, but, technically, it adheres to 
the harmonic and rhythmic complexities of present- 
day art. The main thing about the work, never- 
theless, so far as it concerns most people, is that it 
is of very real fascination, and has much delightful 

The Quartet is not written in classic form, but 
consists of a series of episodes. It is divided into 
two parts, of which the first deals with the following 
subjects : 

11 Pickwick. " 

"A Field Day." 

" Snodgrass and Winkle." 

"Joe, the fat boy." 

"The amorous Tupman." 

"The Picnic." 

"The Card Party." 

The " Pickwick " theme introduces the work, and 
suggests that character's portliness and dignity 


The " Field Day " section is in five-four time 
and opens with some passages from the lower 
strings borrowed from the whole tone scale, and the 
music throughout is full of life. During the course 
of it, we obtain a hint of the personalities of Mr. 
Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle on the violins. 

The " Fat Boy " and his somnolence are sug- 
gested by a slow, heavy, chromatic passage for 
viola and 'cello below a pizzicato movement for the 
upper strings, and the effect is very humorous. 

In the episode dealing with the amorous Mr. Tup- 
man, we have references to the " Pickwick " theme, 
whilst, later, the air of "The Banks of Allan 
Water " is heard on the first violin with an 
elaborate accompaniment. 

The " Picnic " section is full of rollicking jollity, 
and is based mainly upon a theme of a particularly 
happy-go-lucky character 

During the course of this episode, we obtain a 
glimpse of the charm of Miss Rachel in a tew bars 
of waltz measure. Many incidents ot the picnic, 
too, are amusingly suggested as the music proceeds 
on its jovial career. 


The "Card Party," which takes place, later, at 
Mr. Wardle's house, is represented by the quiet, 
homely air of " The Ivy Green," simply arranged. 

The movement closes with a repetition of the 
" Pickwick " theme to signify the leading person- 
age around which all the other characters revolve. 

The second part deals with 

" The romantic side of Mr. Pickwick." 

" Sam Weller's character." 

" Mr. Jingle's (alias Trotter's) character." 

" Mr. Winkle and Mr. Tupman with the guns." 

"Mr. Pickwick and Mrs. Bardell." 

'* The tortuous wiles of Mrs. Bardell." 

This movement is one of much intricacy. In the 
episode treating of the romantic side of Mr. Pick- 
wick, we have the first theme interestingly and 
cleverly developed. 

The " Sam Weller " theme is introduced by all 
the strings in unison, and is the same perky theme 
that was first heard in the "Picnic" section 

( P . 285). 

The character of Mr. Jingle (alias Trotter) is 
humorously portrayed by the appearance of the 
hymn " There is a happy land." 

The next portion of the work, " The first of 
September " is a presto of a very delightful and 
complex character. It is full -of verve, and a fine 
picture of one of those careless days that we asso- 
ciate with the age in which our land was known as 
" Merrie England." At the end of the episode, 
the fine old song "Ye Gentlemen of England" 
appears with fine effect. 



Mrs. Bardell is suggested by a skittish air on the 

At the close of this, we hear the melody of " We 
won't go home till morning" on the 'cellos to 
signify the celebrations of the shooting party at the 
end of their day's sport. This works up to a fine 
pitch of excitement till we reach the reappearance 
of the Pickwick theme allegro maestoso as an in- 
timation that his dignity is still unimpaired. The 
melody of " Sally in our Alley " is also heard just 
before the work terminates. 

The Quartet throughout is of most picturesque 
character, and the contrapuntal texture, though 
elaborate, is so finely woven that each thread of 
melody fits in with the others without any sense of 
straining. It is one of Holbrooke's most remark- 
able achievements, and is obviously a virtuoso 

Song and Dance Suites for String Quartet (Op. 71, 

Op. 72 and Op. 74).* 

The first Suite is divided into four parts, 
namely, (i) A Soldier's Song, (2) English 

* The first two of these are now published. 



Songs (Come Lasses and Lads, Simon the Cellarer, 
and We All Love a Pretty Girl), (3) Irish Songs 
(The Last Rose of Summer and Mavourneen Dee- 
lish), and (4) Reels (The Devil among the Tailors, 
Clyde Side Lassies, Gillie Callum, The Fife Hunt, 
Green grow the Rushes O, Johnny's made a 
Wedding O't, The Highlandman Kissed His 
Mother, O'er Boggie with My Love, and a Coda). 

The second Suite introduces (i) Strathspeys 
(Scotch), "Keep the Country, Bonnie Lassie/' 
" Tullochgorum " and " Cameron's Got His 
Wife," (2) Song of the Bottle (Welsh), (3) " All 
thro' the Night" (Welsh), and (4) Irish Jigs 
" Garry ow en," "Irish Washerwoman," "Paddy 
O' Carroll," " The Tight Little Island," " Roaring 
Jelly," "Paddy Whack," "The Patriot," "Go 
to the Devil," and "St. Patrick's Day." 

The third Suite is composed of Auld Lang Syne 9 
David of the White Road, and Some Ragtime. 

All the airs are splendidly arranged, and the 
work throughout is of a very charming character. 

Serenade for Wind Instruments (Op. 63). 

This work is written for oboe (or oboe d'amore), 
B flat clarinet, corno di bassetto (or cor anglais), 
viola, 2 flugel horns (B flat soprano and B flat bari- 
tone), Saxophones (B flat soprano, E flat alto, B 
flat tenor, E flat baritone, and B flat bass), and 
harp, and is light and graceful in type. The main 
theme, which has a very appealing melodic attrac- 
tion, is first heard on the clarinet and soprano saxo- 


phone in conjunction, and the contrapuntal work 
throughout is very easy and spontaneous. The 
composer intends adding to this Serenade a 
brighter movement by way of contrast. The com- 
bination of instruments has promise of much beauty 
in performance. 

Violin Sonata. 

The Romantic Sonata (or Concerto) (Op. 59), for 
violin and piano, is particularly distinguished for 
the lyrically melodious nature of its themes. It is 
in three movements, of which the first is a vivace in 
F major. In this, there is a short introduction for 
the piano alone, and then the string instrument 
gives out the first subject, which is of a syncopated 
character. After a short bridge-passage, the second 
subject is announced by the violin in the key of 
the dominant of the movement. This beautiful 
air is accompanied by flowing semi-quaver pas- 
sages, and is then repeated with much dignity 
by the piano. The movement then takes a 
regular course, with the first subject reappear- 
ing // with richly emotional effect from the 
piano, and being then repeated by the violin. The 
second subject reappears in the key of F major. 

The second movement, adagio non troppo, opens 
very peacefully. It then presses forward by way 
of an accelerando and crescendo to a poco allegretto 
movement in which there is much effective modula- 
tion, and in which the emotional feeling is rather 
more intense. The return of the first subject is 
accompanied by a greater stir in the piano part, 


The third movement has an introduction con- 
taining a few bars, given out maestoso, followed by 
a vivace giocoso passage. The first subject, which 
is lively and exhilarating, is first heard as a solo 
from the violin with an accompaniment of shimmer- 
ing chords from the piano. The second subject 
appears on the violin poco meno mosso in the key 
of C major with a simple accompaniment from the 

Both in technique and in poetic feeling, this 
sonata is far in advance of the earlier violin sonata. 

Ballet Opera" The Wizard" (Op. 65). 

This work was written for the Russian danseuse 
Mme. Pavlova, and arrangements were made for 
the first performance of it at the Century Opera 
House, New York, but, owing to a series of mis- 
fortunes, it was never produced. It belongs, like 
Pierrette r to the lighter side of the composer's 
genius, and is almost Mozartian in its simplicity. 

The libretto is the work of the American poet, 
Douglas Mallock, and has many attractive and 
fanciful ideas. The action takes place in mediaeval 
Middle Europe. A certain wizard has overthrown 
a King, and holds as captives within his enchanted 
garden the King's daughter Maria and the nobles 
of her late father's court. Any outsider who has 
the temerity to enter this garden is at once stricken 
dumb, whilst, to leave it again after once entering 
it, brings death. 


The first to pay the penalty is Oscar, a friend 
of a certain Prince Arthur, who, with his retinue, 
has lost his way near the Wizard's domain. The 
Prince is also about to cross into the confines of this 
spell-bound region when he is warned not to do so 
by Maria, with whom he instantaneously falls in 
love, and is beloved in return. Meanwhile, Oscar 
has become a slave to the charms of Patricia, who 
is also under the spell of the Wizard. 

The Prince returns to his father's court to urge 
him to make war on the Wizard, but is scornfully 
informed of the futility of such an effort. A 
good Magician, however, appears, and assures 
them of the possibility of success. He refuses the 
King's proffered military assistance to achieve his 
purpose, and he and the Prince set out unaided on 
their heroic adventure. 

Meanwhile, tragic events are happening else- 
where. Oscar crosses the boundary line of the 
enchanted garden, followed by Patricia, and, as a 
consequence, both die to an accompaniment of 
fiendish laughter. Then Prince Arthur and his 
colleague the Magician appear. At sight of Maria 
within the garden, the Prince cannot resist rushing 
towards her, with the result that he is at once struck 
speechless. A contest between the Magician, as 
representative of the Power of Goodness, and the 
Wizard, as representative of the Powers of Evil, 
ensues, with the natural result that Goodness reigns 
triumphant. The spell of dumbness is removed 
from all the dwellers in the garden. The Prince 
and Maria pledge their love, and the spirits of 


Oscar and Patricia soar upwards in blissful happi- 

The orchestra employed in this opera is a small 
one, consisting of strings, wood-wind (two of each), 
trumpets, trombone, tuba, drums and harp. 

The work throughout is full of melody, and has, 
in many places, passages of much picturesque 
dramatic distinction. The charming ballet music, 
too, naturally forms a very prominent feature of the 
work. There is a delightful orchestral Prelude full 
of suggestive material, and the chorus work and the 
first ballet at the commencement of Act I . are both 
good. The Wizard's song, " A Wizard I," with 
its fluent phraseology, is also a notable number, 
although this is quite overshadowed by the beauty 
of Maria's song in which she tells how love alone 
can save her, which is one of the finest bits of in- 
spiration in the opera. The ballet music of this 
act, generally, too, has much fascination. 

In the second act, there is a stirring chorus for 
soldiers, followed by a very dainty female ballet 
(in which the chief theme of the preceding chorus 
reappears), and a processional dance of a tunefully 
graceful character. Prince Arthur's solo " Not 
Far From Here " is also a very appealing piece of 
writing, whilst in the Jester's song "When the 
Spirits of the Air," the ironic element is cleverly 
emphasised and maintained. A well-defined sense 
of mystery, too, attaches to the music surrounding 
the Magician and his song " There is Good and 
there is Evil " is a fine dramatic number. The 


scene of the calling up of the spirit of Maria adds 
further distinction to the act. 

The third act opens with a seductive dance in the 
moonlight for the ballet and Oscar. Patricia's 
languorous ''dance of passion" which follows is 
one of the most beautiful dance measures of the 
work. Her "dance of terror" after Oscar's 
death is also full of wild tumult, whilst the whole 
of this part of the act is most dramatically con- 
ceived. In the Wizard's Evocation Scene, too, we 
get a glimpse of the Holbrooke of The Children of 
Don, whilst the Wizard's song " Goat of Mendes " 
is a very graphic piece of writing, and the 
Magician's solo " O Light of Life " has much 
exquisite feeling. The valse ballet and chorus that 
comes later is full of attraction, and, as the phan- 
toms of Oscar and Patricia appear, we again hear 
the strains of the beautiful " dance of passion," and 
with the sounds of these in our ears, the work 
comes to a close. 

This opera is a fresh departure for the composer, 
but he has adapted himself to his new surroundings 
with much ease. 

Smaller Works. 

Among the lesser unpublished works are also a 
set of Ten Pianoforte Studies (Op. 58) Impres- 
sions of a Tour (i) Bay of Naples, (2) Palermo, 
(3) Girgenti, (4) Empedocles, (5) Malta, (6) Syra- 
cuse, (7) The Adriatic, (8) Brindisi, (9) Corfu, and 


(10) Marseilles, and they are also framed so as to be 
of great use to the student, whilst a " Suite of 
Pieces " y for violin (Op. 55)" Nocturne," " L'Ex- 
tase, " " Serenade, " " Elegie, " " Melodic, ' f 
" Eilean Shona," and "From Syracuse" 
(Scherzo) can hardly fail to appeal to all those 
interested in the instrument.* 

Besides these, there are many other works 
sketched and partly written that still await the com- 
poser's finishing touches. 


This completes the list of Holbrooke's composi- 
tions, and it must be acknowledged that it is a 
lengthy one, offering a convincing testimony both 
to the fertility of his invention and to his industry. 
A quotation from Plato's " Republic" is apposite 
at this point : " Does then," said I, " the discourse 
concerning music seem to be finished, for it hath 
terminated where it ought to terminate in the love 
of the beautiful." The knowledge of Holbrooke's 
complete work leaves behind it the same impres- 
sion. It is on account of its many beauties that 
we love it. He has written in nearly every branch 
of his art, and gained distinction in all. Such 
works as The Bells, Apollo and the Seaman, The 
Song of Gwyn ap Nudd, many of the chamber- 
works, and the operas The Children of Don and 
Dylan have placed him in the ranks of the world's 
great masters, and there is no reason to doubt his 
ability to maintain that position. 

* These piano or violin pieces are now published. 


Naturally, his work has its moments of weak- 
ness, for no composer can always maintain a 
uniform level of lofty inspiration ; but we judge it 
by the many gems of sterling value that blazon 
forth their lustre out of settings of somewhat lesser 
worth. The chief strength of the composer lies in 
his pictorial and dramatic sense, and his best music 
has been generated by external ideas. By reason of 
this quality, we naturally found him verging 
towards opera. As a delineator of the gruesome, 
uncanny and mysterious, he is the most pronounced 
spirit of his age, though his art is by no means 
limited within those bounds. He loves, however, 
to paint a scene of lurid strangeness or virile action 
rather than to depict a simple emotion, for then he 
can revel in his wonderful power of tonal colouring 
more fully. The quality of tenderness, for 
instance, is much less prominently present in his 
work than it is in that of most of the great com- 
posers. It is not that he lacks the power to portray 
it, for many beautiful passages from The Children 
of Don, The Song of Givyn ap Nudd, Annabel 
Lee, Coromanthe, and some of the chamber-works 
would quickly spring up to prove the fallacy of 
such an assertion ; it is rather that his mind does 
not respond so readily to the " melting mood." 

His work generally is full of ingenious rhythmic 
material, which inclines rather to ruggedness than 
to suavity of phraseology, whilst, in his harmony, 
he has indulged freely in empirical methods, with 
a result that has greatly enriched his later art. The 
strong vitality, that is so marked a feature of his 


music generally, brings it closest into line with the 
art of Moussorgsky than with that of any other of 
the modern writers. It is the very antithesis of the 
art of Debussy, though both composers seek 
musical colouring by means of old modes and 
scales. One feels with Holbrooke, however, a 
particularly active masculine temperament at work, 
whilst, with Debussy, it was a dreamy feminine 
temperament of which one was mostly conscious. 
Holbrooke, too, works from a palette composed of 
vivid, brilliant colours, whilst Debussy worked to 
obtain more delicate chiaroscuro effects in tints of 
neutral shades; yet both composers meet on the 
common ground of a rich poetical imagination. 

Another thing to be noted in Holbrooke's music 
is the regard for form that it evidences. Many 
modern composers disregard form almost entirely, 
but Holbrooke, in most of his chamber-works, 
shows a notable reverence for it. Vandalism has 
no attraction for him when the new edifice to be 
erected on the old holds out no promise of improve- 

Throughout the whole of Holbrooke's music we 
have the feeling of mental and technical growth. 
It has never halted in its progress towards more 
comprehensive modes of expression, and his Gar- 
gantuan Trilogy The Cauldron of Anwyn is the 
ripest fruit of his career up to date. The composer 
has, indeed, convincingly proved that he is no 
" drone among the bees, . . . no " swan worn 
out " in this supreme effort of his genius. 

In many respects, Holbrooke is in advance of his 


age and is not understood. As Ruskin once said, 
" The amount of pleasure that you can receive from 
any great work depends wholly on the quantity of 
attention and energy of mind you can bring to bear 
upon it." Unfortunately, the lack of the power of 
concentration is an essentially modern failing, and, 
consequently, the art ideals of composers are con- 
stantly being misconstrued. Those who know Hol- 
brooke's work through and through, and who have 
become acclimatised to the peculiarities of his style, 
are forced to admit the greatness of much of it. 
Absolutely original work always takes a long time 
before reaching its legitimate place in art. Pre- 
judices have to be eradicated, and a more considered 
valuation made of new ideals. It was a very true 
remark that Sophocles placed in the mouth of Ajax 
many hundred years ago 

" Men of perverse opinion do not know 
The excellence of what is in their hands 
Till someone dash it from them." 

The soarings of the musical imagination are often 
so far above us that we seem to need " the chamois' 
sinew and the eagle's wing" even to be able to 
approach it ; but a day does come when, on pinions 
of greater comprehension, we soar a little, and then, 
with a more able understanding, often comes a 
much more thorough and general appreciation. 



Op. i Anthems and Psalms : 

(1) Now thank we all our God (Broadbent, 


(2) Now when Jesus (Novello). 

(3) Hear, O my people ( ,, ). 

(4) Hear my voice, O God ( ,, ). 

Op. 2 (a) Twelve pieces for Pianoforte (for the 
Young) : 

(1) For the Queen. (Marche Militaire No. i.) 


(2) " Mignon " Valse. (Ascherberg.) 

(3) A pleading child. 

(4) A wilful child. 

Rustic dance Ba g at f es 

(6) Petit Mazurka. (Leonard). 

(7) Danse Rustique. 

(8) Study in G. (Trinity College.) 

(9) Study in B flat. 
(10) Study in F. 

(n) Intermezzo. (Weekes.) 

(b) Intermezzo. (Scored for Small Orchestra.) 



Op. 3 Six Violin and Piano Pieces (for the 
Young) : 

(1) Melodic. (Vincent & Co.) 

(2) On the Rhine. ( ,, ,, ) 

(3) Berceuse. ( ) 

(4) Polka peu dansante. ( ,, ,, ) 

(5) Valse me"lancolique. ( ,, ,, ) 

(6) Scherzino. ( ,, ) 

Op. 4 Ten Pianoforte Pieces: 

(1) Valse Caprice. (Three Blind Mice.) 


(2) Mazurka de Salon. (Leonard.) 

(3) Valse Venetienne. ( ) 

(4) Orientale. ( ,, ) 

(5) Scaramouche. ( ,, ) 

(6) Pantalon. ( ,, ) 

(7) Scherzo Cappricioso. ( ,, ) 

(8) Arlequinade. ( ,, ) 

(9) Carnival-Tarantelle. ( ,, ) 
(10) Valse Alsacienne. (Trinity College.) 

Op. 5 Two Poems for Violin and Piano: 

(1) Ballade. (Ascherberg.) 

(2) Legende. ( ) 

Op. 6 

(a) Sonata for Violin and Piano. (Larway.) 

(b) Adagio and Rondo for Clarinet and Piano. 

(Hawkes & Co.) 

Op . 7 Six Songs : 

(1) Fair Phyllis. (Boosey.) 

(2) A wild rose. (Leonard.) 

(3) A love symphony. ( ,, ) 

(4) I cannot tell. ( ,, ) 

(5) Golden daffodils. (Ascherberg.) 

(6) There's a garden. ( ,, ) 

Op. 8 Five pieces for Mandoline, Violin and 
Piano : 

(1) Bon Jour. (Rogers.) 

(2) Entr'acte. ( ) 

(3) Nocturne. ( ,, ) 

(4) Serenade Arabienne. (Turner & Co.) 

(5) Valse Characteristique. (Leonard.) 

Op. 9 Six Part-Songs, Madrigals and Glees: 

(1) Spring is cheery. (Bayley & Ferguson.) 

(2) She's up and gone. (Novello.) 

(3) Gentle Spring. ( ) 

(4) The Wood-lark. (Gary & Co.) 

(5) I will woo the rose. (Reid.) 

(6) Thro' groves sequestered. (Novello.) 

Op. 10 Nine Pianoforte Pieces (for the Young): 

(1) A happy thought. 

(2) Forgotten. (Hammond & Co.) 

(3) Valse Gracieuse. 

(4) A Columbine. 




(5) Acrobats. 

(6) Matinee Intermezzo. 

(7) Valse Noble. 


( , 

( , 

(8) Les Graces Air de Ballet. ( , 

(9) Three Bagatelles : ( , 

(a) Scherzino. 

(b) Petite Romance. 

(c) Gnomes. 

Op. 11. Five Songs: 

(1) Summer Sweet. (Boosey.) 

(2) Bonnie dear. (Enoch.) 

(3) The tulip's wooing. (Stainer & Bell.) 

(4) Sheila. (Enoch.) 

(5) Honour bright. (Enoch.) 

Op. 12 Nine Violin and 
Young ) : 

(1) March in G. 

(2) Valse lente. 

(3) Moorish Dance. 

(4) Alia Napolitana. 

(5) Recollection. 

(6) Reconciliation. 

(7) Berceuse. 

(8) Valse Serenade. 

(9) Caprice. 

Op. 13 Seven Songs: 

(1) Love foregone. 

(2) We are violets. 

(3) Good-morrow. 

Piano Pieces (for the 

Recreations. (Boosey.) 

Character Pieces. 




(Leonard & Co.) 

( ) 


(4) Love's answer. (Ricordi & Co.) 

(5) Where's mother? ( ) 

(6) The Sailor's bride. ( ,, ) 

(7) I came at morn. (Larway.) 

Op 14 Five Bohemian Songs : 

(1) Unto my foe. (Boosey.) 

(2) Liberty. ( ) 

(3) Ere your beauty. ( ,, ) 

(4) Story of a drum. ( ,, ) 

(5) A free lance, also with orchestral accom- 

paniment. (Boosey.) 

Op. 15 Five Songs: 

(1) In sunshine clad. (Leonard.) 

(2) The sea hath its pearls. ( ,, ) 

(3) A voice. (Boosey.) 

(4) Autumn. (Larway.) 

(5) A winter night. ( ,, ) 

Op. 1 6 Part Songs : 

(1) Sunrise. (Oliver Ditson & Co.) 

(2) The Wanderers. ( ,, ,, ) 

Op. 17. (a) Seven Piano Pieces: 

(1) Clair de Lune. (Leonard.) 

(2) Le Crepuscule. ( ) 

(3) For the King. ( ) 

(Marche Militaire No. 2.) 

(4) Gavotte Elegante. ( ,, ) 

(5) Coquette. ( ) 

(6) Barcarolle. ( ) 


(7) A Valentine. (Gary & Co.) 

(8) Welsh Suite for Small Orchestra 

" Pontorewyn." (Chester.) 

(b) Quartet (No. i) for Strings. (Chester.) 

Op. 1 8 Two Piano Suites : 

(a) Kleine Suite. (Breitkopf & Hartel.) 

(a) Wunderlicher Einfall. 

(b) Valse Grotesque. 

(c) Scherzo Humorestique. 

(d) Zuneigung. 

(e) Verzweiflung. 

(b) Suite Moderne. (Cary & Co.) 

(a) Scherzo Humoresque. 

(b) Valse Romanesque. 

(c) By the Sea. Nocturne. 

(d) L'Orgie >Bacchanale Fantasie. 

Op. 19 Fantasie Sonata for Violoncello and 
Piano. (Chester.) 

Op. 20. (a) Sextet (No. i) for Piano, Clarinet 
and Strings. (Ricordi.) 

11 The Dances." 

(a) Slavonic. 

(b) Plantation. 

(c) Landler. 

(d) Tarantelle. 

(b) Pianoforte Duet arrangement. 

Op. 21. Piano Quartet (No. i) in G. minor. 


Op. 22 Six Characteristic Songs. (Boosey & Co.) 

(1) Sympathy. 

(2) Battle Song. 

(3) Tag and Bobtail. 

(4) Follow the gleam. 

(5) Come to the west. 

(6) Seawards. 

Op. 23 Six Pieces for Violin and Piano and 
'Cello and Piano : 

(1) Serenade Orientale. Also for military 

band. (Lengnick.) 

(2) Humoresque. ( ,, ) 

(3) Souvenir. (Boosey.) 

(4) Remembrance. (Leonard.) 

(5) S^r^nade. ( ) 

(6) Souvenir de printemps. (Novello.) 

Op. 24. Six Lyrical Songs: 

(1) Tho' all the stars. (Stainer & Bell.) 

(2) A little fairy. ( ) 

(3) Love and I. (. ) 

(4) To Dianeme. (Leonard.) 

(5) They Love Indeed. ( ,, ) 

(6) Night and Day. (Reid.) 

Op. 25 Poem (No. i) for Grand Orchestra, " The 

Raven": (Chester.) 
Also Piano Arrangement. 

Op. 26 Marche Triumphale for Grand Orchestra. 

Also Piano Arrangement in MS. 


Op. 27 (a) Quintet (No. i) in D Minor. (Chester.) 
(b) Quintet (No. 2) in G. " Fate." (MS.) 
For Clarinet and Strings. 

Op. 28. Trio (No. i) for Piano, Violin and Horn. 
(Rudall Carte.) 

Op. 29 Six Dramatic Songs: (Trench.) 

(1) Come, let us make love deathless. 

(2) I heard a soldier. 

(3) My own sad love. 

(4) O dreamy, gloomy, friendly trees. 

(5) The Requital. 

(6) Dark, dark the seas. 

Op. 30. Six Romantic Songs: (Chester.) 

(1) A lake and a fairy boat. 

(2) To my wife. 

(3) Come not. 

(4) A farewell. 

(5) To a cold lover. 

(6) The Stars. 

Op. 31 Pianoforte Quartet (No. 2) in D minor 
" Byron." (Chester.) 

Op. 32 Poem (No. 2) for Grand Orchestra " The 

Viking." (Chester.) 
Also Piano arrangement. 

Op' 33 ( a ) Sextet (No. 2) for Piano and Wind 

Instruments "Soul." (Chester.) 

(b) Quintet (No. 2), " Miniature Suite," 

for Wind Instruments. (Rudall, 



Op. 34 Six Landscapes for Voice and Piano. 

(1) Along the path. 

(2) The Shadows. 

(3) High noon. 

(4) Grey evening. 

(5) Night. 

(6) Stay, my love. 

Op. 35 Poem (No. 3) for Grand Orchestra 
" Ulalume." (Breitkopf Hartel.) 
Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 36 (a) Lyrical Drama " Pierrot and Pier- 

rette." (Chester.) 

(b) Ballet Suite (No. i)" Pierrot," for 
String and Full Orchestra. 

Op- 37 Variations for Orchestra: 

(a) Three blind mice. (Chester.) 

Arranged for Piano Duet. 

(b) " Girl I left behind me." (Chester.) 

Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 38 Suite for Orchestra (No. 2)" Dream- 
land": (Weekes.) 

(1) Ensemble. 

(2) The Dance. 

(3) Dreaming. 

(4) Hilarite. 

Also Piano arrangement. 


Op. 39 Poem (No. 4) for Orchestra and Chorus 

" Byron." (Novello.) 
' Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 40 Suite for Orchestra (No. 3) " Les Hom- 
mages." (Chester.) 

(1) Wagner. 

(2) Grieg. 

(3) Dvorak. 

(4) Tschaikowsky. 

Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 41 (a) Marino Faliero. (Scena for Baritone 
or Bass, with Orchestra.) 

(b) Annabel Lee. (Ballad with Orches- 
tra.) (Boosey.) 
There are Pianoforte arrangements of both 

of these. 

Op. 42 Ten Rhapsodic Etudes for Piano. 

(1) Caprice Brillant. 

(2) Poursuivant 

(3) nergique. 

(4) La fantastique. 

(5) Une nuit tene"breuse. 

(6) Nocturne. 

(7) Toccata. 

(8) Fantoches. 

(9) Valse fantasie. 
(10) Novellette. 

Op. 43 String Sextet (No. 3) 

"Henry Vaughan." (MS.) 


Op. 44 Quintet (No. 4) " Diabolique " for 
Piano and Strings. (Chester.) 

Op. 45 Poem (No. 5) for Grand Orchestra and 
Chorus" Queen Mab " (Breit- 
kopf & Hartel.) 
Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 46 Sextet (No. 4) For Pianoforte and 
Strings " In Memoriam." 

Op. 47 Choral Songs: 

(1) Footsteps of Angels. (Novello.) 

(2) To Zante. ( ,, ) 

(3) Jean Richepin's Song. (Bosworth.) 

(4) In Fairyland. ( ,, ) 

(5) The Shirker. (Novello.) 

(6) To Thee, Wales. (Stainer & Bell.) 

(7) Captain Wattle. ( ,, ,, ) 

(8) Drink the Swizzy. ( ,, ,, ) 

(9) England's Battle Psalm. (Spottiswoode.) 
(10) The Flower. (Chester.) 

Op. 48 Dramatic Choral Symphony for Orchestra 
and Chorus: (Chester.) 

(1) The haunted palace. 

(2) Hymn to the Virgin. 

(3) The City in the Sea. 

(4) The valley Nis. 

Also Piano arrangement. 
Op. 49 Opera " The Snob." (Unfinished) 


Op. 50 Poem (No. 6) for Grand Orchestra and 
Chorus 1 The Bells." (Breit- 
kopf & Hartel.) 
Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 51 Dramatic Symphony for Grand Orchestra 
and Chorus, " Apollo and the 
Seaman." (Novello.) 

Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 52 Poem-Concerto for Grand Orchestra and 
Piano. The Song of Gwyn-ap- 
Nudd." (Chester.) 

Also Piano arrangement. 
Op. 53 Music Drama " Dylan." (Novello.) 

Op. 54. Five Songs. (Cramer.) 

(1) An Outsong. 

(2) Killary. 

(3) M 7 J ean - 

(4) Where be you going? 

(5) Think not of it. 

Op' 55 Suite of (< Mezzotints " for Clarinet or 
Violin and Piano. 

(1) Nocturne. (Novello.) 

(2) L'Extace. (Ricordi.) 

(3) Serenade. ( ) 

(4) filegie. ( ) 

(5) Melodie (" Eilean Shona "). (Gary.) 

(6) From Syracuse (Scherzo). ( ,, ) 


Op. 56 Music Drama " The Children of Don." 


Op. 57 Nocturne for Piano, Oboe d'Amore and 
yiola " Fairyland." (Chester.) 

Op. 58 Ten Mezzotints for the Piano. (Ricordi.) 

Op. 59 (a) String Quartet (No. 2) Belgium. 

(b) Romantic Sonata for Piano and 

Violin. (MS.) 
(c) Four Futurist Dances for Piano. 


(a) Leprechaun Dance, 

(b) Demon's Dance, 

(c) Troglodyte Dance, 

(d) Ensemble Trollops Dance. 

Op. 60 Variations for Orchestra " Auld Lang 

Syne." (Chester.) 
Also Piano arrangement. 

Op. 61. Orchestral Ballet" Coromanthe." 


Op. 62 Orchestral Ballet" The Moth." 


Op. 63. Serenade for Wind Instruments. (MS.) 
Op. 64 Prelude and Fugue for Organ. (Chester.) 
Op. 65 Ballet Opera" The Wizard." (MS.) 


Op. 66 Orchestral Ballet " The Red Masque." 


Op. 67 Music Drama " Bronwen." (MS.) 

Op. 68 String Quartet (No. 3)" The Pickwick 
Club." (Chester.) 

Op. 69 Brass Band Works: (Novello.) 

(a) Girgenti, 

(b) Butterfly of the Ballet, 

(c) A hero's dream. 

Op. 70 

Op. 71. Folk-Song Suite (No. i) for String 
Quartet. (Chester.) 

Op. 72. Folk-Song Suite (No. 2) for String 
Quartet. (Chester.) 

Op. 73 

Op. 74 Folk-Song Suite (No. 3) for String 
Quartet. 'MS.) 

Op. 75 

Op. 76 Three Songs with String Quartet Accom- 
paniment. (Enoch.) 

Op. 77 The Orient for Pianoforte. (Enoch.) 
Op. 78 Barrage for Pianoforte. (Chester.) 

Op. 79 Valse Talsarnan for Pianoforte. 

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